Claudia Putnam's Reviews > Girl at War

Girl at War by Sara Nović
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really liked it
bookshelves: literary-fiction, blazing-debuts

3.5 probably. But I'll read her next book for sure, and I'm fairly certain this book will make my end-of-year list, if only because I haven't been that impressed with much of what I've read this year. She has a flat, Atwoodian style, which suited the subject, and the fact that the more intense parts of the story were written from the POV of a ten-year-old. I wish I could remember the title of the Holocaust memoir I have in a crate in my basement, in which a couple considers fleeing Warsaw. The wife leads the husband on a tour of their beautiful apartment and convinces him their their life is too good to give up. When Ana's parents briefly take Ana and their sick infant out of Croatia for medical care, a border guard asks why they are returning. We can't flee our homeland, the father says, shocked. This matter of honor is a similar, blind rationale to the one recounted in the Jewish memoir, though even harder to understand since the family can't get the lifesaving medical care their dying daughter needs in Croatia. The need to get this care is later responsible for Ana's parents' deaths.

Ana, the girl at war, is twice at war. In Croatia, and also for the rest of her childhood after she is sent to America, as she struggles to recover from PTSD and to "come to terms" with what she's experienced. The weakness in the novel is mainly in its very American ending, with its emphasis on resolution and, yes, coming to terms.

OTOH, it seems that Croatia itself has come to terms, and has moved on, so why shouldn't Ana? Perhaps it is America that has crippled her most, with its bland disregard for the rest of the world, its refusal to talk about what's happened to her, its ignorance of where Croatia even is (an ignorance reflected in the reviews here on GR--what happened, everyone wants to know), with its own need for Ana to move on and be all right.

Anyway, more please, Ms. Novic.


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Reading Progress

Started Reading
July 1, 2015 – Shelved as: to-read
July 1, 2015 – Shelved
July 1, 2015 – Finished Reading
October 20, 2015 – Shelved as: literary-fiction
April 28, 2018 – Shelved as: blazing-debuts

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