Sara Nović’s GIRL AT WAR

9781408706558I generally read 2-3 months ahead. It’s the nature of the book industry. I buy books for the shop 2-3 months in advance and get reading copies of the books being sold in. However with this book my 2015 reading has gotten a little bit ahead of itself. Six months in fact. I couldn’t help myself as this book was compared to two of my favourite novels of recent years; The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht and A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra. I had to read this book straight away.

Firstly the comparison is completely justified while at the same time telling a completely different kind of story to those two wonderful books. The book opens in 1991 in Zagreb. A city that was once part of Yugoslavia which is about to become the capital of Croatia as civil war erupts. Ana Jurić is ten years-old and the story is told through her eyes as the collapse of communism soon turns to a confusing and violent war.

Ana is like any ten year-old. She wants to play with her best friend Luka and the effects of the war are more intriguing than dangerous. The sandbags and other equipment are new areas to explore and play and the constant air raids are exciting. But when Ana’s baby sister gets sick the effects of the war and the new borders it has created become all too apparent. Ana has to grow up fast. Faster than she wants. Faster than anyone should have to.

Sara Nović’s writing is incredible and she completely shattered me a quarter of the way into the book. She also structures her story perfectly jumping backward and forward from the war in 1991 to ten years later and its lasting aftereffects. This is a coming-of-age story which happens far too early. It is about how history defines us and haunts us. It is about trying to make sense of an unexplainable conflict and how in war innocence is so easily lost.

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ISBN: 9781408706558
Format: Paperback (234mm x 153mm x mm)
Pages: 336
Imprint: Little Brown
Publisher: Little Brown Book Group
Publish Date: 19-May-2015
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

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