Pretty Birds

Narrated by: Christina Moore
Length: 13 hrs and 48 mins
Categories: Fiction, Historical
4 out of 5 stars (57 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Celebrated NPR personality and acclaimed author Scott Simon is an Emmy and Peabody Award winner. This astonishing novel is based on his experiences covering the siege of Sarajevo.

Teenaged Irena and her parents are forced into hiding when Bosnian Serbs launch their war of ethnic cleansing against Muslims. But Tedic, a strong-willed Muslim man, convinces Irena to become a sniper and take up the defense of her home and people.

A deadly chess game, Irena's story plays out against the backdrop of a city brutalized by war. Based entirely on true events, Pretty Birds is a powerful and striking tale.

©2005 Scott Simon (P)2005 Recorded Books

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

In amongst the Shells...

This is not a happy book. In many ways, it's brutal and tragic and angry. Scott Simon has written about a time, a place, a people, primarily through the eyes of Irena.
Irena is a 17-year-old high school basketball star at the start of the war. Seemingly overnight, everything changes for her and her family. Friends, relatives and strangers get killed just for standing in line for water, people live in shot-out buildings, simply existing ias an act of defiance against those who want a greater Serbia and their Muslim neighbors dead.
I first read this book in my early 20s, and I didn't like Irena much. Now that I'm older, I understand her motivation, how idealism and hope can morph into radical defiance.
Scott Simon is a terrific writer, Christina moore is a great narrator. Pick up this book if you're at all interested in this time and place, and one young girl's coming of age in the middle of it.

6 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Dark and gritty. Immersive and involving. Read it!

One of the few books I've come back to read again and again. It was the first book I selected for my book club and one that I've recommended more than any other. I first heard of this book by listening to an interview with the author (Scott Simon) shortly after it came out. Simon was a reporter in the Bosnian civil war and I understand he pieced this story together from the people he met and things he witnessed. While no one character or event is a direct copy from reality, they were crated with the ingredients of what really happened. Over the years I have met people who lived through this horrific event and although It's really not my place to say, I feel that he has done a good job representing some facets of life for those who lived it. Albeit in a fictionalized way that keeps the reader engaged and interested. Although filled with bits of dark humor, this is not a funny book, nor is it a light story. It has emotional swings that bring you up and back down with the hardships, pains, and joys of the main character and her family. It will probably leave you thinking about every day conveniences we take for granted and may help put your own problems into a larger perspective. I know it has for me. I hope you give it a read and that you enjoy it as much as I did.

5 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Compelling account of the war in Bosnia

I wasn’t sure what to expect, but was quickly drawn in by this story told from the perspective of a young woman. I was struck by how little I knew of the suffering that went on