Connected Interactive: "Trauma and Rage"
Date: May 7 2010
Sascha Naimann, the protagonist of Alina Bronsky’s intense novel, is a dreamer. She wants to write a book about her mother and kill the man who killed her mother and lover. Sascha is a Russian immigrant and a brilliant student. But having witnessed the brutal death of her mother she has extreme difficulty connecting with people. Her traumatic experience has filled her with justifiable rage. Sascha describes in great detail the characteristics of her mother’s last lover. He was the exact opposite of the man, Vadim, who ended up taking her life in a jealous rage. The last lover was the very embodiment of helplessness. Sascha remarks that her mother “liked helping those who were less knowledgeable or less capable than she.”
Alina Bronsky draws an interesting correlation between Vadim and Sascha – two people who are extreme enemies. Sascha is not helpless or incapable of much of anything. She is a brilliant student and a teenager with goals even if one of those goals happens to be to kill her mother’s murderer. The trauma that Sascha Naimann experiences makes her steely and brutally strong. In experiencing trauma she becomes most similar to the murderer or the victimizer. Sascha’s rage creates an unfortunate parallel to Vadim. The rage of trauma can make you as full of rage as the perpetrator. But Sascha spends most the novel in denial of her own feelings. She states, “My nerves are made of steel, no, actually I don’t have any at all.” Sascha mistakenly believes that the trauma she experienced has created a vacuum. That she has gone numb. Alina Bronsky deftly crosses the treacherous terrain of Sascha’s mind and the final resolution to Sascha’s trauma keeps the reader gripped in empathetic anticipation.