Zlata's Diary: A Child's Life in Sarajevo by Zlata Filipovic.
translated by Christina Pribichevich-Zoric.
Viking/Penguin Group: NY, 1994.
Originally published as Le Journal de Zlata by Fixot et editions Robert Laffont: 1993. trans copyright 1994 Fixot et editions Robert Laffont.

Zlata Filipovic started writing her diary at the age of 10 a few months before war broke out in Sarajevo. She had no idea that war was imminent. In fact, even when she saw news footage of Dubrovnik, Croatia, she couldn't conceive of war coming to Sarajevo. She couldn't imagine that the surrounding area would be devastated by shelling and that she would be confined to one room in her family's apartment without the basic necessities of life.

Zlata wrote her diary as a 10-12 year old girl trapped by circumstances. The writing is mature for that age. Her diary has been compared to The Diary of Anne Frank. It doesn't have the same eloquence, but it does capture the hopelessness and desolation of a town with innocent bystanders caught in the viciousness that war is (all war, no matter the cause). It captures the emotions and thoughts of a girl cheated of her childhood and wondering when it will stop, if it will stop. During the invasion of her town, Zlata faced deprivations, devastation, and the death of those around her. Friends and family fled, while she and her family were stuck suffering through the chaos. She remains brave and hopeful through much of the book, but also heartbroken by the loss of her childhood.

Zlata's Diary was published before the end of the war (even before the end of the diary). The published version ends abruptly-without a resolution. The UN helped her family to move out of Sarajevo before the ceasefire, but that, too, is not in the diary.

I first heard of Zlata's Diary in The Freedom Writers Diary. The Freedom Writers (students) were inspired by Zlata's story even after having read The Diary of Anne Frank. So inspired that their teacher arranged for Zlata to travel from Europe to California to meet them. The students felt a strong connection to her, because they felt like they also were living in a war zone, in a ghetto area of Los Angeles.

related-Sarajevo 1991-1993, Croatia, Bosnian War, Bosnia-Herzegovina, life in a war zone
RL=7th & up, as young as 5th depending on circumstances

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