By Alina Bronsky
Broken Glass Park is the tough story of a young girl whose upbringing and current life situation is hard, to say the least. After a former abusive boyfriend murders her mother, Sascha has to take care of her younger siblings with the help of a guardian she doesn’t particularly respect. From her point of view, we’re taken through her grieving, her distrust and hatred of men, her failing schoolwork, and her experience as an immigrant. There is a lot going on in this novel, and sometimes I did wish that it would focus a bit more. Then again, this is also what made it such a fascinating read.
Sascha finds herself in strange situations, and many would probably categorize her as self-destructive. She befriends a newspaper editor who feels bad enough about her mother’s death that he offers to help in any way he can. Suddenly, she’s staying with him and his son, and caught up in her own weird love triangle.
Even though this serves as the main plot, there are other things that happen to her throughout that are also strange and somewhat unbelievable. I don’t want to give too much away, but I will say that some of these are created by her rather than things that simply happen around her. In that way, I understand why some people feel that her character is unsympathetic, but I think they don’t fully appreciate how deeply she is affected by everything going on around her that she doesn’t have control over.
The story is surprisingly violent, and there is one scene in particular where it almost feels gratuitous. But the violence works because it is authentic and symbolizes the turmoil that Sascha is going through. In some ways, the story reminded me a bit of Stieg Larsson’s Millenium series. It is not nearly as violent and doesn't tell the same story, but the female protagonist in both struggles with issues of trust, violence against women, and being an outcast. In that sense, I came away from Broken Glass Park with the same feeling of sympathy and empowerment that I felt after reading The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.
The story may not be completely original, but it still captivated me and held my attention so closely that I read it in a day. As is often the sign of how much I enjoy a book, my biggest complaint was that it was too short. Just as I was hoping that Sascha’s life would take a turn for the better and that she would reclaim it for herself, the book was over. I can only hope that the author revisits this girl’s story so that I can get wrapped up in it all over again.