April 26, 2010 6:45 am

Broken Glass Park

Cover of the book 'Broken Glass Park'

Broken Glass Park, by Alina Bronsky, Europa Editions $15, 336 pages

Sascha Naimann, the 17-year-old Russian immigrant at the centre of Alina Bronsky’s debut novel, is academically brilliant and resolutely dedicated to her family. She has two dreams shared by none of the other residents of her impoverished Berlin community: the first, to write a book about her late mother; the second, to assassinate the stepfather who murdered her.

These two ambitions give the narrator a voice so compelling that it comes to eclipse the tragic plot that spawned it. Sascha is caught between determined pragmatism and childlike bewilderment and her astute observations conceal uncertainty about how to reconnect with the world.

Bronsky’s language is potent and vital. Brutality, rage, loss and trauma are expressed with candour. As a result, when Sascha’s flashes of tenderness and vulnerability rupture the prose at unexpected moments, they hit the reader with as much force as her more violent impulses.

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