May, 1992. Hana is 12 years old when her older sister Atka puts her on a UN evacuation bus fleeing the besieged city of Sarajevo. Thinking they will be apart for a short time, they make a promise to each other to be brave. But as the Bosnian war escalates and months go by without contact, their promise becomes deeply significant. Hana is forced to cope as a refugee in Croatia, while Atka and their younger siblings battle for survival in a city overwhelmed by crime and destruction. Then, when Atka manages to find work as a translator, events take an unexpected turn, and the remarkable events that follow change her life, and those of her family, forever.
©2011 Atka Reid & Hana Schofield (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
I have always been fascinated by Sarajevo, for the simple reason that I was growing up during the time of this war and was too little to really understand what happened and why. This book explains the conflict, the deprivations, and the love between two sisters in straight-forward prose, not sugar-coating anything, but also detailing the glimmers of hope during hard lives as a near vaptive in a besieged city and a refuge in another country.
Atka and Hana... beyond them, there were so many good people who assisted the girls, it is hard to pick just one.
Just okay... Another note, I suppose, was that since two first-person narratives were contained in this book, I really think two narrators should have read it. I never really got confused, but there was little intonation or accent (this narrator can and has done better).
The ending... no spoilers, I promise!
This book is a worthwhile biography. Perhaps it is better to read in print, perhaps not... but I enjoyed it enough to hang on to it in my audio library, because of its personal and moving nature.
OK, the two authors of this book had an important story to tell. These two sisters and their family lived through the Siege of Sarajevo, beginning in 1992. The Muslim family living in Sarajevo was very large - ten kids! Two of the kids, one twelve and the other fifteen were evacuated to Croatia. Another daughter was in Vienna when the siege began so she too later lived with her sisters in Croatia. The rest, along with their mother and father and two grandmothers lived through the Siege from March 1992 through November 1995. The mother chose to return to Sarajevo. 10.000 were killed. 60.000 were wounded. Remember this was in Europe; this was in recent times. And what did the UN do? Not much of anything.... What did the European Union do? Very little. It was very hard to listen to this because it felt so close in both time and place. It felt like next door! And I have been in Zagreb where the three girls in Croatia stayed. It spooked me. What happened to this family will shake you, and it is a story that needs to be told. If you want to know exactly what it might have been like to be there in Sarajevo during this war, read this book. You also hear what it was like for the three girls alone in Zagreb, not knowing what was happening to their family. You will get all the facts clearly presented.
It almost feels like a young adult book though. Why? because everything is explained very simply, but yes, also correctly. Their is love too, and jokes and the dialogs are what you hear on any modern day TV show. It is accurate, but don't look for nuanced ideas or skilled writing.
The narration of the audiobook was done by Bernadette Dune. It was fine, and you know what I mean by that. Not special, just OK. Just ordinary talking. It could have been better. Since the story is told by both twelve year old Hanna and her twenty-one year old sister Atka, it would have been better if the intonations were a bit different for the two. I didn't mix them up though. You always knew who was speaking because they were in different places. You could tell who was speaking by what was going on.
The content of the book pulls you in, but how it was written is just ordinary.
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