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I just finished reading Girl at War by Sara Novic. Girl at War is a historical fiction novel about a young girl, Ana Juric, who is living through the Yugoslavian Civil War. When the war breaks out she is only ten years old and trying to understand what is going on around her. After the death of her parents, she escapes to America where she is forced to deal with her survivor's guilt. Only problem, most people in America have never even heard of the Yugoslavian Civil War, and no one understands what she's gone through. She decides that she must return to her home country of Croatia if she is ever to find peace.
While I enjoyed the storyline of Girl at War, the structure of the novel left me feeling overly confused, and the novel seemed to end without ever giving the reader a sense of closure. Perhaps that was the point, but I personally found it very disappointing. The novel alternates between 10-year-old Ana and 20-year-old Ana. It starts with young Ana at the start of the war, but once her parents are killed it quickly fast-forwards to Ana at 20 going to college in America without any explanation of how she got there. I think the intended purpose was to add drama to the story but it left me frustrated and needing answers. On the other hand, it kept me reading.
Once Ana decides to go back to Croatia, the story very suddenly jumps back to young Ana, and the reader finally learns how Ana ended up living in America. Then, almost without warning, the reader goes back to college Ana, who is traveling in search of her godparents. I won't spoil the ending but I will say it ends a bit abruptly and had me wondering: What was the point of all that?
Overall, I enjoyed reading the book but I wouldn't say it was the best book I've ever read. I did appreciate the suspense that was created with the movement between young Ana and adult Ana, and it is a compelling story. My only real complaint is the ending. If you like historical fiction, I think it's worth checking out. Maybe you'll feel differently. If you do, be sure to let me know in class!