From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. In her riveting debut, Bronsky gives us Sascha Naimann, a 17-year-old Russian immigrant living in Germany who narrates a brutal story with a sharp, canny voice. Sascha is determined to kill her stepfather, Vadim, who murdered her mother, but with Vadim in prison and social workers hovering, Vadim's cousin, Maria, arrives to care for Sascha and her younger stepsiblings. A puff piece in the local paper about Vadim's supposed reformation sends a livid Sascha to the newspaper office, where she meets Volker Trebur, an editor who, having briefly known Sascha's mother, offers to make things right. Sascha quickly takes him up on the offer, moving in to Volker's guestroom and beginning an intense involvement with Volker's family—particularly his teenage son. When that flames out, Sascha ends up in broken glass park, the dangerous area in her neighborhood where drugs, booze, and rough sex prevail. Sascha's hunger for life shines through her relentless fight to leave behind a painful childhood—a struggle complicated by an unexpected twist in the final act—making for a stark, moving tale of resiliency and survival. (Apr.)
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Growing up in a rough city neighborhood in Germany, Sacha, 17, is a brilliant student, the only Russian immigrant in her elite Catholic high school. But everything is on hold when her brutal stepfather murders her mother. Sacha’s obsession is to kill him, in prison or out, even as she nurtures her little brother and sister in the violent projects. A lot happens in this first novel, but more than the fast plot, it is the striking narrative voice that will grab readers. Translated from the German, the present-tense narrative nails the contemporary teen voice—wry, furious, hilarious, heartbreaking, “wired but wrecked at the same time.” Rooted in the immigrant experience (struggling with a new language, forgetting the old one), the coming-of-age story is universal. When a guy threatens to make Sacha’s life a living hell, she says, “Too late; it already is.” Yes, she hates men, and maybe she hates women, too. Her anger makes you laugh and cry. --Hazel Rochman