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Girl at War

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  24,597 ratings  ·  2,774 reviews
Zagreb, summer of 1991. Ten-year-old Ana Jurić 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 ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published May 12th 2015 by Random House
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Alycia I think so. It's really sad and disturbing but very important so if the teen wants to read it, I would encourage this.
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Average rating 3.99  · 
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Dec 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
In America I'd learned quickly what it was okay to talk about and what I should keep to myself. "It's terrible what happened there," people would say when I let slip my home country and explained that it was the one next to Bosnia. They'd heard about Bosnia; the Olympics had been there in '84.

this is one of those debut novels that makes you really really excited for the future of fiction.

everything about this book is phenomenal. her writing is fluid, her characters are vivid, and she brings a st
Amalia Gavea
‘’Of course we want to go back. Of course we’re going home.’’

Home...Where is this ‘’home’’ when the land where you’ve spent all your life is about to witness violence, desolation, and death? Where is this ‘’home’’ when the people you’ve known as neighbours and friends are now considered enemies? Where is this ‘’home’’ when your loved ones are lost? When the guilt of surviving the nightmare still haunts your dreams? Home can only be found once you’ve made your peace with a terrifying past and
"The war in Zagreb began over a pack of cigarettes."
'Serbian or Croatian?' asked the grumpy kiosk clerk, and the world of ten-year-old Ana Juric in the Zagreb summer of 1991 changed forever. From the slogans and air raids and simple childhood war games imitating the ever-worsening, ever more atrocious war in the Balkans - "War quickly became our favorite game and soon we had given up the park altogether" - to the life-shattering moment in the roadside wood (the horror of the chapter title "T
Apr 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Wow! This book really packs a punch and takes you by surprise. Girl at War tells the story of Ana Jurić, who when the story begins is 10 years old, without a care in the world, running around the streets of Zagreb, the capital of Croatia. The story is told in told in four parts. When Anna is 10 and war breaks out across Yugoslavia. Her young sister is quite sick and needs a doctor. So the family takes her to a doctor and on the way home, tragedy strikes. One of the most shocking things I've read ...more
Diane S ☔
Nov 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
3.5 Ana is ten years old and living in Zagreb, Croatia's capitol city with her mother, father and very ill baby sister, when war breaks out. Seeing it as the only way to save her daughter, the family makes a journey that will change Ana and her family's lives in a horrific way and plunge Ana right into the middle of the war.

This novel goes back and forth in time, Croatia and America, ten years later when Ana is now a college student. How she arrived here from there is the subject of this novel a
Apr 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing

5.0 (brilliant shooting) STARS!

Updated November 27, 2015. I saw this photo attached to a recent article about the Syrian conflict. It reflects exactly my feelings and emotions about the Croatian girl in this story!

[image error] photo 45e130e9-be29-45ab-81fe-07700f3aeab2_zps3pdpdk1d.jpg

Oh how I loved this book :)
“Damir taught me how to fieldstrip and reassemble an AK. Forward grip, gas chamber, cleaning rod, bolt (piston first), frame, magazine. “Function check!” It meant to cock the gun as a test, but anyone completing the check yelled it triu
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
This book was released into a crowded field, as many immigrant and western-educated authors of diverse origin publish English-language stories about war in their home countries. Particularly good novels in this category include Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht; A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini; and A Golden Age by Tahmima Anam. Even the exact premise of this book – protagonist experiences conflict in her home country as a girl, immigrate ...more
This pitch-perfect debut novel is an inside look at the Yugoslavian Civil War and its aftermath, from the perspective of a young girl caught up in the fighting. The careful structure is what keeps it from becoming just another ordinary, chronological war story. The recreation of a child’s perspective on the horrors of war is stunning. In fact, I can barely think of a negative thing to say about this concise novel. It strikes a perfect balance between past and present, tragic and hopeful.

Sep 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
This one has been on my to read list for such a long time, and then BookRiot recommended it in anticipation for my trip to the Balkans, perfect excuse to finally read this one.

Ana Juric is residing in Zagreb (former Yugoslavia) in the 1990's when the wars broke out effectively breaking up Yugoslavia and changing the landscape of the Balkans forevermore. Ana is ten years old, food is scarce and her baby sister is sick. Her family decides to send baby Rahela to America for help through MediMission
Paul Bryant
Aug 27, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: novels
Many years ago me and a friend hitchhiked through the whole of Yugoslavia, from Ljubljana all the way down the coast though Split and Dubrovnik – what a beautiful road it was, with the grand mountains on the left and the sudden chasmic drop on the right down to the fishing villages at the edge of the Adriatic, and the islands out in the sea. We hit the border with Albania and had to go up into the mountains – in those days Albania did not look kindly on men with long hair and bell bottom jeans. ...more
Apr 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
they couldn't fathom that such a dangerous place could still harbour all the feelings of home.

I can't believe this was historical fiction and not a memoir, it felt so real. I also can't believe the author is only 26. This is my favorite writing - understated, with no melodrama, almost a bit removed from reality. The first part of the book introduces us to Ana as a child in Yugoslavia - the author does an amazing job of showing us how slowly war creeps into your life, and then she follows it up w
I've been a member of Goodreads since August 2007: almost seven years. Strangely, I still can't quite shake the sense of it being a relatively new addition to my internet life: it was, for me, pre-Twitter and Instagram, but post-LiveJournal and my large back catalogue of personal websites. It's also odd to look back on my early reviews, which now feel like they were written by a much more childlike version of myself, as if pulled from a teenage diary, even though I was already in my twenties whe ...more
Nov 22, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a side effect of modern warfare, we had the peculiar privilege of watching the destruction of our country on television.

I found this book after it was nominated for two categories in the Goodreads Choice Awards - Debut Author and Fiction. Prior to that I had not heard of it.

It quickly sucked me in, with the very real portrayal of war through a child's eyes. It jumps between two time periods. Her as a young girl in Croatia, and later in her twenties as a college student in New York.

The writing
Nov 25, 2017 rated it liked it
This is compellingly readable, more so the first half, which is why I ended up dropping the rating a bit, and sheds light on the Yugoslavian war, a war I knew very little about.

There was something about the first half of Ana’s story that felt very real and authentic; the narration reminded me of war through a child’s eyes, similar to one of my all-time favorite memoirs, The Girl With the White Flag, about a young girl trying to survive in wartime Okinawa.

As Ana ages, the style and narration beco
Croatia, the War of Independence (1991-1995) and the aftermath as seen through the eyes of a young girl. This was maybe a three and a half star book for me. I felt oddly disengaged when I should have been shocked, horrified, saddened, haunted.

Lots of people loved this book and one of the top reviewers, Karen, suggests that the detached tone is a literary device. That may well be the case and if so it's a clever approach to portraying one possible manifestation of PTSD.

This is Sara Nović's firs
Book Riot Community
I’m really starting to enjoy historical fiction. I’ve not read much in the genre, but every time I do, it makes me want to go research the time period in question. Nović’s debut novel is about a girl living in Croatia at the tender age of 10 when the Yugoslavian Civil War breaks out. The novel fast-forwards to her college years in America, where the tragedies of her youth still haunt her budding adulthood. She decides to return to Croatia for closure. Nović manages to balance the darkness of war ...more
This was a 4.5 star read for me. Novic creates a compelling character, Ana Juric, a young Croatian. The novel begins in the early 1990's in Zagreb, Croatia, at the beginning of the Balkan war(s). The people of Zagreb, as others who live through wars, aren't aware of the coming violence. Ana, at age 10, is even more naive, not understanding when she goes on an errand to buy cigarettes for a relative, why she is asked whether she wants Croatian or Serbian cigarettes. In the midst of encroaching wa ...more

"Older men declare war. But it is the youth that must fight and die. ~Herbert Hoover"

I absolutely loved this. So much so that I am at a loss for words to accurately express the beauty of this novel and how Sara Nović's prose has resonated with me. Easily the best debut novel I have ever read.

Girl at War follows the life of Ana Jurić and her experiences during and after the Croatian War of Independence (1991-1995). Told from both her ten and twenty-year-old perspectives, we gain insight into her
Oct 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a sad story; is there even a story of war which is not sad? Ana whose parents had been killed in front of her is now a college student in NY. After presenting in UN about civil war in Croatia she decides to go back home again....
Mar 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Told through the voice of Ana, a child at the outbreak of war, the book has a seemingly light touch. It gives no easy answers, no real resolutions. Novic has created a distance between Ana and her story, in both time and space, allowing her descriptions of events to be told in a rather detached tone. This adds tot he separation she has tried to create between her past and present, one which increasingly, she is unable to maintain. The ways in which conflict and death influence her life and her c ...more
Jul 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
I'm bumping this because it is a kindle deal right now for $1.99 until 4/8. I read it two years ago and highly recommend!

4.5 stars. This book gave me a window into a war I (embarrassingly) knew little about, and still find somewhat confusing. Knowing this is a part of our recent past made it even more poignant. In this novel, the story of the Bosnian War in the early 90s is told through the eyes of 10 year old Ana, who is living in Zagreb, the capital of Croatia when war breaks out. With
Apr 28, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical, 2015
I was young, but I remember hearing about the Yugoslav wars on the news. I particularly remember Kosovo, both because I was a little older, and because my state hosted a number of Kosovar humanitarian arrivals for a period during the war. I remember the community distress when the refugees were returned to Kosovo, some against their will, when their visas expired. I'm ashamed to say though that I really don't understand the wars; what I know would fit on a fingernail. I Googled before and whilst ...more
Betsy Robinson
Jun 12, 2015 rated it liked it
This is very serviceable writing. This novel sounds like a memoir, and with enormous interest and horror I learned a lot about the Yugoslavian civil war.

My interest comes from my alarm and dismay at our current American political climate. Because of our Constitution (our religious freedom, freedom of speech, separation of church and state, and despite what many claim, the fact that the USA is not affiliated with any one religion and is in fact a nation of immigrants and its founders were the fo
Jun 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
When the book opens we’re introduced to ten-year old Ana Juric playing in the streets of Zagreb. But when civil war breaks out the realities of her life change. But we’re still seeing it through the eyes of a young girl. Fairytales and football shattered in a gut-punch of a moment. Stories continue to have an influence on Ana and we see her struggle to define hers. Quietly compelling and beautifully done.
I wish I could give this book 5 stars only because in hope that if I did it would become so popular everyone would read it and learn something about the Homeland War. I'm still flabbergasted that while sitting on a bus less than 6 months ago in Belgrade, Serbia I overheard an otherwise educated American utter these words "I'm confused --aren't we in Yugoslavia? What do you mean it doesn't exist?" But alas, I need to judge this book based on its own merit and not my interest in the subject matter ...more
May 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
Understated, self-assured roman à clef of a young girl’s coming of age in war-torn Croatia.

Girl at War is in one sense a coming-of-age novel, albeit one that is painfully attuned to the wider politics of its storytelling. Ana is warned when she gets back to Zagreb that “you don’t get to claim the war as your personal tragedy. Not here.” It is also a novel about exile and alienation. A returning emigrant, Ana finds herself already distanced from political realities in Croatia, which are recounted
A book that is set in the year I was born? SIGN ME UP. #91baby!

Girl at War was so freaking good! I loved every second of it. This book definitely does some time jumping between the past and present of Ana's life - but you'll love it!

In the beginning, Ana is about 10 years old and she's in the middle of war while in Croatia. Then you will jump 20 years later and she's at College in America. I loved getting to know Ana because she was such a strong character. This book takes you on her journey -
Feb 01, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2016-reads
Ugh! Just wrote a review and it didn't save. Here's the gist of it: characters felt flat and undeveloped; the history of the war in Yugoslavia was only touched upon - I wanted more of the historical background; and the story skipped around a bit without quite focusing in and developing any particular event. This should be a fast read, however, and it actually felt a bit like it could be classified as a young adult novel. I read it on my iPad and actually "turned" the page thinking the story woul ...more
Jamise // Spines & Vines
Sara Nović's debut is a gripping reminder about those who suffer the most & in silence during times of war... the children. Although a tad predictable in places the story follows 10 year old Ana during the Croatian-Bosnian War to her new life as an adult in America. Although life in America affords Ana many opportunities, her wartime past continues to haunt her; eventually beckoning her back to her land of lost. 3.5 stars simply because as a reader I wanted more from the storyline & character de ...more
Aug 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites, 2015
So interesting and fantastically heartbreaking
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Sara Nović is author of the novel GIRL AT WAR, (Random House), an American Library Association award winner that's available in 13 languages. AMERICA IS IMMIGRANTS, new, illustrated nonfiction, is coming in 2019. She lives in Philadelphia.

You can visit her on the web at or at
[twitter] @novicsara
[insta] @photonovic

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