Must Read Monday: Girl at War

Posted 18 May, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reading, Reviews

Must Read Monday: Girl at WarGirl at War by Sara Novic
Published by Random House Publishing Group on May 12th 2015
Genres: Coming of Age, Cultural Heritage, Fiction, Literary, War & Military
Pages: 336

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange honest review consideration. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Zagreb, 1991. Ana Jurić is a carefree ten-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.

This is another one of those books that I will forever be indebted for other people pushing me to read (specifially – at least- Monika and Shannon). I’m in a funky place right now with my reading and my blogging but Girl at War pierced through that place, quite easily, and took me away from my own difficulties.

The first thing that I really appreciated and liked about this book is that the Yugoslavian civil war, which for Americans, even in collegiate level world history courses is glossed over like it’s no big deal. This book made me feel small as an American — in a good way. I want to know more now about the massacres that took place. Because honestly, there were scenes in Girl at War that felt like they were straight out of a WWII novel/non-fiction book. This was a lesson for me, something that I knew, but that this novel really pounded home for me — that even in a post Nazi world, there are still atrocities taking place. The Yugoslavian civil war happened in Europe, in my lifetime. Why don’t I know more about it?

Another thing that I really enjoyed about this novel was Ana’s desperation and journey to fit in to American society as a refugee, along with the juxtaposition of her sister, who had been sent to America as an infant with no memories of the horrors that happened at home.

The writing in this novel is excellent, like I said I’m in a slump caused by reasons I can pinpoint, and this still was able to awaken me out of my slumpiness and propel me through it in a mere few days. It leaves me to consider what other genocidal atrocities do I know about only for passing conversation.

Compelling, well written, and absolutely readable. This is your must read book for the summer.

Do you feel uneducated about wars that your country hasn’t been affected by, Reader? I also think of all the genocide and civil wars in Africa when I speak of this. Have you read Girl at War yet? Does it sound like your bag?


April @ The Steadfast Reader



19 Responses to “Must Read Monday: Girl at War”

  1. You, Shannon and Monika (and all the others that has written good reviews for Girl at War) has definitely convinced me to read this!! I love war-time novels and like you I don’t about this civil war, so it would be a really interesting read for me!

  2. Don’t you love when people are pushy for all the right reasons…. I also loved this. And I COMPLETELY agree re: my own ignorance about this time in (the not so long ago) history. I don’t read a ton of non-fiction, so I love when books can educate me.

  3. Lindsey Stefan

    Yes, I so appreciate being shaken out of my American comfort zone and reading about times and places I don’t really know. This one is definitely on my tbr list, especially because my father is from Yugoslavia (although he left long before the 1990s).

  4. Eleanor Baggley

    I’m going to Zagreb in a few weeks and I’d already thought of this one as my accompanying read. This review has settled it!

  5. I do feel so uneducated about lots of things; things I don’t even know I don’t know about until I read a book about them. What I love so much about reading is that writers are able to zero in on a subject for their book in a way that history books, articles, and Wikipedia does not. So, my education on wars among other things might be slow going, but it is oh, so good! I will definitely be reading this book at some point.