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Girl at War

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  19,119 Ratings  ·  2,299 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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Monerl Because Ana and her family is living in Zagreb. And the author is describing the city throug Anas eyes. …moreBecause Ana and her family is living in Zagreb. And the author is describing the city throug Ana´s eyes. (less)
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.

Community Reviews

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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
Feb 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
 photo dubrovnik_war-main_zpsa7tuaygi.jpg

“Their musings about how and why people stayed in a country under such terrible conditions were what I hated most. I knew it was ignorance, not insight that prompted these questions. They asked because they hadn't smelled the air raid smoke or the scent of singed flesh on their own balconies; they couldn't fathom that such a dangerous place could still harbor all the feelings of home.”

This book gave me chills. I noted many similarities between the main character and me. My name is also Ana.
"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 "The
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 triumphantly
Rebecca Foster
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.

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
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
João Carlos
Jun 10, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: l2017

”Rapariga em Guerra” é o primeiro romance de Sara Nović (n. 1987), uma estreia verdadeiramente auspiciosa, deixando antever o despontar de uma prometedora escritora.
Em 1991 as notícias do início de um conflito armado – na Jugoslávia - em plena Europa deixaram-me perplexo e horrorizado, quer pela sua génese quer pela sua violência. Realisticamente a Jugoslávia como país agrupava um conjunto de regiões e etnias, com diferentes credos religiosos, que formavam uma unidade de génese artificial, asse
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
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
Nov 28, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: رمان
به طور خلاصه کتاب درباره تجزیه یوگسلاوی است. «آنا» دختری از خانواده ای کروات قهرمان کتابه که کودکیش در جنگ بین صرب ها و کروات ها و.... بوده. روایت آنا از زندگی آرومش شروع می شه تا به جنگ و نجات معجزه آساش از دست صرب ها و در نهایت رسیدنش به آمریکا می رسه. تو این کتاب از توصیفات طولانی و بی جا خبری نیست و حتی میشه گفت نویسنده از بخشهایی با عجله عبور کرده. مثل زمانی که خاطرات جنگ رو برای «برایان» تعریف می کنه و این خودش حس آنا رو که نمیخواد راجع به گذشته حرف بزنه رو بیشتر القا میکنه. کشش داستان خوب ...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
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
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
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....
Aug 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
في باكورة أعمالها تنقل لنا الكاتبة الأمريكية الكرواتية سارة نوفيتش
تأثير الحرب على المدنيين و الأطفال منهم خاصة، من خلال
شخصية آنا يوريتش الفتاة الكرواتية التي عايشت الصراع العرقي الدموي في مدينة زغرب سنة 1991

في خضم السؤال عن الهوية و الرغبة في لملمة جراح الحرب ان وُجد لذلك سبيل، تراوح الكاتبة الشابة بين ماضي الشخصية المحورية و حاضرها، و ما بين كرواتيا و الولايات المتحدة في رحلة للبحث عن الذات و إعادة التواصل مع الجذور.

رواية رائعة سواء من ناحية السرد القصصي أو من ناحية بناء الشخصيات… لم أستمت
Mar 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
M.L. Rio
Apr 06, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: netgalley, literary
Sara Novic's Girl at War is frustratingly incomplete. In a way, this is a testament to the power of the author's work--that she leaves the reader wanting more. But in this case it's more complicated. The reader wants more because Novic never gives him quite enough.

Novic's portrait of war-torn, fractured Yugoslavia is authoritative and unromantic. Ten-year-old Ana lives in a city under siege and threat of senseless violence, struggling to understand a conflict she's much too young to make sense o
Terri Jacobson
Jun 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
It's 1991, and Ana Juric is 10 years old and living in Zagreb, Croatia, when war breaks out. She is a brave girl, but inevitably experiences trauma and horrific loss. She is one of the lucky ones; she winds up in America in an adoptive family with her younger sister. Segue to New York, 2001. Ana is a college student, but she cannot get beyond her past. She travels back to Croatia, now at peace, to see what is left of her old life.

Girl at War is a well-written and intense story. Ana is a believab
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
Feb 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015
In 1991, ten-year old Ana lives with her parents and baby sister in Croatia’s capital city, blissfully unaware of tensions beginning to rise to the surface. Before long, however, she is unable to miss the Civil War sparking around her as Yugoslavia starts to crumble. While attempting to travel within the country with her family, Ana’s once simple life is thrown into chaos and sets off a chain of events that will lead her through dark, unexpected situations.

Girl at War is completely devourable, i
Apr 28, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015, historical
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
David Yoon
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.
Aug 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015, favorites
So interesting and fantastically heartbreaking
Laurence R.
Oct 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sunbeamsjess
This was definitely one of my favourite books of 2016. Highly recommend it!
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Sara Nović is author of the novel GIRL AT WAR, (Random House; Little, Brown UK) now out in paperback. She's also the fiction editor for Blunderbuss Magazine. She lives in Brooklyn. You can visit her on the web at, or ask her a question below; she checks in from time to time.
[twitter] @novicsara
[insta] @photonovic
More about Sara Nović

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“...I knew in the end the guilt of one side did not prove the innocence of the other.” 41 likes
“Their musings about how and why people stayed in a country under such terrible conditions were what I hated most. I knew it was ignorance, not insight that prompted these questions. they asked because they hadn't smelled the air raid smoke or the scent of singed flesh on their own balconies; they couldn't fathom that such a dangerous place could still harbor all the feelings of home.” 14 likes
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