Girl at War
The first third of this gripping debut novel
depicts the start of the Yugoslavian civil war through the eyes of Ana Jurić, a
10-year-old girl residing with her family in Croatia's capital. "We entered
an era of false alarms," she observes, referring to the air raid warnings
that, along with food rations and sniper fire, came to torment their days. As the
war's horrors reach a tragic climax, the narrative jumps ahead to New York
City, six months after the attacks of September 11th, 2001. Here, Ana is a
college student studying literature. She keeps her past a secret even from
those closest to her, to make for herself a life "uncontaminated by the
specter of childhood." But history still haunts her, particularly in
post-9/11 Manhattan. The very fact that the so-called War on Terror feels
so remote in the U.S.—"more an idea than an experience"—continually
reminds her how the war in Croatia
tyrannized "every thought and movement, even while you slept."
Ana realizes she has no choice but to return to face the world she left behind.
Through Ana's journey, Nović,
in tender and eloquent prose, explores the challenge of how to live even after
one has survived.
— Julia Pierpont