Bridget's Reviews > Logavina Street: Life and Death in a Sarajevo Neighborhood

Logavina Street by Barbara Demick
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it was amazing
bookshelves: 2012, 2019
Read 2 times. Last read August 5, 2019.

Second reading August 2019:

I loved and lived and breathed this book years before I even went to Sarajevo and on a second reading, now that I've been there, it has earned a place on my list of all-time faves. It is so true to the feeling you get in that city and I only wish I could have brought a copy of it with me on my trip so I could cross-reference every page.

Things that stood out to me on this reading
1. How well this book does something that similar books sometimes struggle with (We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled, as good as it is, comes to mind): namely, painting a vivid picture of The Before. The author never lived in pre-war Sarajevo and there are no flashbacks in this book and yet through the stories of its characters you FEEL the loss of the lives they had before the siege.

2. How resourceful Sarajevans cobbled together wartime recipes to make do, wrote them down, and then later in the war, went back to those recipes and realized they couldn't even scrape together those desperate ingredients anymore.

3. How one day, the electricity went off, and just...never came back on, except sporadically. And then how at first you cancel school and keep your kids in the basement where they are safe from mortars and snipers...until you don't. It's not sustainable. Kids need to play and go to school and that doesn't suddenly become un-true just because there's a war on.

If you can't go to Sarajevo, read this book. If you CAN go to Sarajevo, then read this book beforehand and bring it with you on your trip.

First reading September 2012:
My across-the-street neighbor is from Sarajevo. One time we got to chatting while our kids played and she told me the story of how she emigrated to America as a teenager during the wartime siege. It involved the promise of a scholarship, a tunnel under the airport and a crazy bus ride into Croatia. At the time, even as I recognized that hers was an amazing journey, I only vaguely understood the context of it. I hadn't yet read Balkan Ghosts, so my frame of reference for 1990s Bosnia was something like, "Yes, I was alive during that time and I remember there being some fuss about Sarajevo, and yet not enough fuss, somehow, and also there was that song by The Cranberries."

Now, after reading Logavina Street (and Balkan Ghosts over a year ago), I understand so much more. Just as she did with Nothing to Envy, Demick here has woven the ordinary lives of ordinary people into an extraordinary account of life in harsh conditions. On every page of this book, I was touched by the strength of the Sarajevan people during the siege. Every day that I read this book, I went to sleep having dreams of Sarajevo. When I wasn't reading the book, I was thinking about it. It was that kind of all-encompassing reading experience.

By the way, before I started reading the book, I mentioned to my neighbor that I had it and while she hadn't heard of the book itself, she said something like, "Oh yeah, Logavina Street," and then told me some stuff about that part of town. You know, just your average stories of growing up in a war-torn city. I can't wait to ask her for more details of her emigration, because the book actually talks about the tunnel under the airport and mystery American scholarships waiting for Bosnian youth and even crazy bus rides into Croatia.

(Also by the way: the edition I read was published in 2012, and has a couple of new chapters added to the 1996 version. It seems like once Nothing to Envy was such a success, Demick was able to get this book re-published. I can't believe it ever went out of print!)
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Reading Progress

September 12, 2012 – Shelved
September 12, 2012 – Shelved as: 2012
Started Reading
September 13, 2012 – Finished Reading
Started Reading
August 5, 2019 – Shelved as: 2019 (Hardcover Edition)
August 5, 2019 – Shelved (Hardcover Edition)
August 5, 2019 – Shelved as: 2019
August 5, 2019 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-1 of 1 (1 new)

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Sanja Kulenovic Bridget, I am from Logavina street. Thank you for your very nice comments about Sarajevans:)

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