Girl at War

  • by Sara Novic
  • Narrated by Julia Whelan
  • 7 hrs and 32 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

For fans of The Tiger's Wife and All the Light We Cannot See comes a powerful debut novel about a girl's coming of age - and how her sense of family, friendship, love, and belonging is profoundly shaped by war.
Zagreb, 1991. Ana Jurić is a carefree 10-year-old, living with her family in a small apartment in Croatia's capital. But that year, civil war breaks out across Yugoslavia, splintering Ana's idyllic childhood. Daily life is altered by food rations and air raid drills, and soccer matches are replaced by sniper fire. Neighbors grow suspicious of one another, and Ana's sense of safety starts to fray. When the war arrives at her doorstep, Ana must find her way in a dangerous world.
New York, 2001. Ana is now a college student in Manhattan. Though she's tried to move on from her past, she can't escape her memories of war - secrets she keeps even from those closest to her. Haunted by the events that forever changed her family, Ana returns to Croatia after a decade away, hoping to make peace with the place she once called home. As she faces her ghosts, she must come to terms with her country's difficult history and the events that interrupted her childhood years before.
Moving back and forth through time, Girl at War is an honest, generous, brilliantly written novel that illuminates how history shapes the individual. Sara Novic fearlessly shows the impact of war on one young girl - and its legacy on all of us. It's a debut by a writer who has stared into recent history to find a story that continues to resonate today.

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What the Critics Say

"An unforgettable portrait of how war forever changes the life of the individual, Girl at War is a remarkable debut by a writer working with deep reserves of talent, heart, and mind." (Gary Shteyngart, author of Super Sad True Love Story and Little Failure)
"Intimate, crushingly brutal, and beautiful, Girl at War is the work of someone far more mature than her years. It constitutes signal proof that even great history is insufficient to tell the story of the twentieth century in Europe: Great fiction like this book is required, too." (Robert D. Kaplan, author of Balkan Ghosts andAsia's Cauldron)
"Novic's important debut brings painfully home the jarring fact that what happens in today's headlines on a daily basis - the atrocities of wars in Africa and the Mideast - is neither new nor even particularly the worst that humankind can commit.... Thanks to Novic's considerable skill, Ana's return visit to her homeland and her past is nearly as cathartic for the reader as it is for Ana." (Booklist)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

A perfectly timed departure from the predictable template.

Girl at War shouldn't pass you by. The horrors of the 1990's Balkan Crisis, set against the breathtaking beauty of the land, give bittersweet memories of her past that is far removed from Ana's new life in America, where comfort is taken for granted and war is something folks watch on TV.

The will to survive, despite having every reason to surrender to the fate of her mother and father, is Ana's story. Love, fear, hesitation and uneasy rediscovery are mixed into a nostalgic reunion that takes place when Ana returns to see the remains of her childhood. Perhaps the only thing that has stayed the same is the connection she shares with Luka, the boy she left behind. As young adults, Luka and Ana set off together on a journey to find the past that had previously been set aside in Ana's mind.

Sara Nović masterfully unwinds this story of survival. Don't pass over this book! It is haunting and beautiful in every sense of the word.
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- Sara

On Growing up and Finding Home

This book is difficult to review, even as I read it quickly and swallowed it whole. I grew up in Canada, and am about the same age as the fictional Ana. While I never could understand her need to hide her heritage from her American classmates, teachers, and anyone else, it did make sense in the way of a teenager and preteen.
Julia Whelan is a narrator I've heard of but not explored much. She handles this book nicely, though her male characters have frustratingly low tones that don't suit her well. But her dialogue was polished and emotive, and does carry Ana's character nicely.

This book tackles very difficult subjects of homecoming, of war, of innocence lost at an age where you desperately cling to whatever innocence you have left. It's a difficult read, as war books should be, but it is by no means violent for its own sake. It is hopeful and shattering and frustrating and resilient... maybe it was meant to be this way.
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- Daryl

Book Details

  • Release Date: 05-12-2015
  • Publisher: Random House Audio