Wednesday, September 7, 2016

GIRL AT WAR by Sara Nović

Ten-year-old Ana and her parents are Croatians who find themselves in the midst of a wholly unexpected civil war.  When infant Rahela becomes ill, the family’s best option is to send Rahela to a foster family in the U.S. for treatment.  What ensues is horrific, and then the narrative fast-forwards 10 years.  Ana is now a college student in New York with secrets from her past that she has never told her boyfriend or her adopted parents.  I certainly appreciated this opportunity to learn about the genocide in the former Yugolslavia, but I did not love this book.  The timeline is jagged, and I gasped at the abruptness of the ending.  Also, the author never completely fills in the 10-year gap, so we just skip over Ana’s adolescent years in the U.S., in which she ignored letters from her best friend, Luka, in Croatia.  Then when she does try to contact him, he doesn’t respond.  This whole dance seemed immature to me.  I get that she was traumatized and probably still fears abandonment, but she apparently never talked about what happened, and surely she couldn’t completely bury such intense grief.  I found her silence to be a bit maddening, and I never had the impression that she considered going back to Croatia until her boyfriend suggested it.  Then suddenly she feels compelled to return to face her demons and seems to be running away from her American boyfriend and family.  The writing is adequate but not stellar, but it was a fast read, and I’m grateful for that, not only because I wasn’t that enamored with the book but also because the subject matter is so disturbing, including the fact that relief aid seldom reached the people for whom it was intended.  Sad but undoubtedly true.

No comments: