Other 17-year-old girls may daydream about date night. Sascha Naimann daydreams about revenge. Her abusive stepfather is in jail for killing her mother, and Sascha entertains Jacobean fantasies of vengeance. Should she shoot him, or poison him, or perhaps bludgeon him to death with a candlestick? The more we learn about Sascha, the more we suspect that she might actually be capable of committing mayhem.
She is capable of much else. Warehoused with other Russian immigrants in a squalid housing project in Berlin, Sascha has learned to speak German so well she can pass for a native. She is an A student, a chess whiz, a streetwise survivor, a sardonic teenage temptress who drives the boys — and men as well — wild but yields up little of herself. With the help of a caretaking cousin summoned from Novosibirsk, she serves as surrogate mother to her traumatized brother and sister, protecting them from the perils of the urban underworld around them.
Written by the intriguingly pseudonymous Alina Bronsky, “Broken Glass Park” is a vivid depiction of contemporary adolescence under pressure. After such a debut, it will be interesting to see what the author can do as her talents mature.