Author: Sara Novic
Published: May 21st 2015 by Little Brown
Amazon | Amazon UK
Blurb: Zagreb, summer of 1991. Ten-year-old Ana Juric is a carefree tomboy who runs the streets of Croatia’s capital with her best friend, Luka, takes care of her baby sister, Rahela, and idolizes her father. But as civil war breaks out across Yugoslavia, soccer games and school lessons are supplanted by sniper fire and air raid drills. When tragedy suddenly strikes, Ana is lost to a world of guerilla warfare and child soldiers; a daring escape plan to America becomes her only chance for survival.
Ten years later Ana is a college student in New York. She’s been hiding her past from her boyfriend, her friends, and most especially herself. Haunted by the events that forever changed her family, she returns alone to Croatia, where she must rediscover the place that was once her home and search for the ghosts of those she’s lost.
With generosity, intelligence, and sheer storytelling talent, Sara Nović’s first novel confronts the enduring impact of war, and the enduring bonds of country and friendship.
*First of all I would like to thank the publishers for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*
extraordinary tale about war, loss and grief but also about love and hope and the need to find your place in the world. With two main story lines, Girl at War tells the story of Ana, a Croatian girl who survived a cruel and violent war but lost almost everything in it, even a part of herself. We follow a ten-year-old Ana in Zagreb, in the midst of the civil war, and a twenty-year-old Ana in New York, on her third year of university.
It still shocks me that this war happened only twenty years ago. I vaguely remember the news about it as I was quite young still but I remember thinking that those countries had to be far far away. My little mind couldn't conceive that such atrocities were really happening so close and nobody was doing anything to prevent it. Reviving those acts of destruction through young Ana's eyes really got to me. She and her friends, unable to really understand the concept of war and ethnic cleansing and the dangers that it implies, turn the new war elements into a game. Playing with the piles of sacks or fighting over the bike that serves as a generator in the basement they hide during the air raids. But soon, Ana's innocence is cut short and she ends up in an occupied village where she is recruited by the local guerilla. The matter-of-factly and simple narrative make this tale even more raw and shocking.
When we read about Ana in America, ten years later, we see another version of Ana. She tells everyone she's from New Jersey and keeps her memories and demons in a locked part of her brain, avoiding going there at all costs. But with no real place to call home and with no idea of who she really is she must face the difficult but necessary return to her old town. A real journey of self discovery, I was completely enthralled with the story. Trying and failing to image how she must have been feeling.
I think that having the chance of reading such a tale is a privilege for us readers. Sara Novic takes us in a raw but truly memorable journey. Making us remember the atrocities of war and wonder why there are still so many conflicts in the world. Sara's voice needs to be heard, loud and clear, and after such an amazing debut, I can't wait for more by this young author.