For fans of The Tiger's Wife and All the Light We Cannot See comes a powerful debut novel about a girl's coming of age - and how her sense of family, friendship, love, and belonging is profoundly shaped by war.
Zagreb, 1991. Ana Jurić is a carefree 10-year-old, living with her family in a small apartment in Croatia's capital. But that year, civil war breaks out across Yugoslavia, splintering Ana's idyllic childhood. Daily life is altered by food rations and air raid drills, and soccer matches are replaced by sniper fire. Neighbors grow suspicious of one another, and Ana's sense of safety starts to fray. When the war arrives at her doorstep, Ana must find her way in a dangerous world.
New York, 2001. Ana is now a college student in Manhattan. Though she's tried to move on from her past, she can't escape her memories of war - secrets she keeps even from those closest to her. Haunted by the events that forever changed her family, Ana returns to Croatia after a decade away, hoping to make peace with the place she once called home. As she faces her ghosts, she must come to terms with her country's difficult history and the events that interrupted her childhood years before.
Moving back and forth through time, Girl at War is an honest, generous, brilliantly written novel that illuminates how history shapes the individual. Sara Novic fearlessly shows the impact of war on one young girl - and its legacy on all of us. It's a debut by a writer who has stared into recent history to find a story that continues to resonate today.
©2015 Sara Novic (P)2015 Random House Audio
"An unforgettable portrait of how war forever changes the life of the individual, Girl at War is a remarkable debut by a writer working with deep reserves of talent, heart, and mind." (Gary Shteyngart, author of Super Sad True Love Story and Little Failure)
"Intimate, crushingly brutal, and beautiful, Girl at War is the work of someone far more mature than her years. It constitutes signal proof that even great history is insufficient to tell the story of the twentieth century in Europe: Great fiction like this book is required, too." (Robert D. Kaplan, author of Balkan Ghosts andAsia's Cauldron)
"Novic's important debut brings painfully home the jarring fact that what happens in today's headlines on a daily basis - the atrocities of wars in Africa and the Mideast - is neither new nor even particularly the worst that humankind can commit.... Thanks to Novic's considerable skill, Ana's return visit to her homeland and her past is nearly as cathartic for the reader as it is for Ana." (Booklist)
Girl at War shouldn't pass you by. The horrors of the 1990's Balkan Crisis, set against the breathtaking beauty of the land, give bittersweet memories of her past that is far removed from Ana's new life in America, where comfort is taken for granted and war is something folks watch on TV.
The will to survive, despite having every reason to surrender to the fate of her mother and father, is Ana's story. Love, fear, hesitation and uneasy rediscovery are mixed into a nostalgic reunion that takes place when Ana returns to see the remains of her childhood. Perhaps the only thing that has stayed the same is the connection she shares with Luka, the boy she left behind. As young adults, Luka and Ana set off together on a journey to find the past that had previously been set aside in Ana's mind.
Sara Nović masterfully unwinds this story of survival. Don't pass over this book! It is haunting and beautiful in every sense of the word.
This book is difficult to review, even as I read it quickly and swallowed it whole. I grew up in Canada, and am about the same age as the fictional Ana. While I never could understand her need to hide her heritage from her American classmates, teachers, and anyone else, it did make sense in the way of a teenager and preteen.
Julia Whelan is a narrator I've heard of but not explored much. She handles this book nicely, though her male characters have frustratingly low tones that don't suit her well. But her dialogue was polished and emotive, and does carry Ana's character nicely.
This book tackles very difficult subjects of homecoming, of war, of innocence lost at an age where you desperately cling to whatever innocence you have left. It's a difficult read, as war books should be, but it is by no means violent for its own sake. It is hopeful and shattering and frustrating and resilient... maybe it was meant to be this way.
We are humans with the greatest and weakest in us. Biology plays a role, environment makes the difference. The circumstances outside of our control are hard to acknowledge as we want to believe that our will plays a more important role, than it actually does..
I found characters well developed, very realistic, events to be very probable, the cultures presented from multiple points of view, and learned quite a bit about myself and others. The torturous events were not extravagantly emphasized, but then they did not loose their power of hurt and understanding. The kindness of people was not elevated to sainthood, but also was not minimized. This book is a reminder that not everything depends on us, but then something does depend. It helped me to understand the impact of certain experiences.
I was impressed with author writing. The books reads easily, but the vocabulary is quite rich.
Very nicely delivered story and beautifully performed. Highly recommend it. It is the safest way to learn what it is to be a child in a war.
Great book, but I'm a little disappointed with the ending. I want to hear more of her journey, there was so much left out. (not in a bad way, the plot is fine, it's just the small things I want conclusions for.)
Listening to an angry frustrated girl who has had a terrible childhood. I found the history lesson informative but character in unsatisfying and the ending abrupt.
Compelling characters. Compelling story. The author personalizes the War, the tragedies, the brutalities, the scars in a way that a history book cannot. Despite the subject matter, it is not downbeat nor depressing. The lead character, Ana, has hope and a future like Croatia itself. The book provides an insight to the Balkans (as well as to the Middle East today.) The narrator could not be better.
any person who has experienced war will want to read this book. my experiences, while not the same, elicited many of Ana's emotions. I did not like the abrupt end and wanted more closure. Overall Excellent!!!
The narrator makes all the men in the book sound Eastern European. Otherwise, it was an amazing heartfelt tale of the Croatian crisis, less known the Bosnian massacre.
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