What a wonderful find this novel was! I have been reading, for an Olympic challenge, books by foreign authors or set in foreign countries. This is one of those books that I never would have read had I not been taking part in a challenge that caused me to look for specific genre of books from specific countries.
On the surface, there wasn’t anything seemingly extraordinary about the plot line. This is a contemporary book about a Croatian girl who suffers several tragic experiences before physically moving to a safer environment. Unfortunately, her mind doesn’t make the leap to safety as easily as her body.
Author Sara Nović writes in a spare style that is perfect for the starkness of this story. In many ways the writing reminded me of Cormac McCarthy”s The Road. I am always in awe of authors who can convey such powerful emotion in such simple language. This debut novel is a powerful testament by a young Croatian writer about just what it means to grow up in a war-torn homeland.
Given the complexity of the characters, the clear plot lines, and the emotional heft, it is amazing to think that this is Nović’s freshman effort. Watching her grow as an author is going to be such a pleasure. I highly recommend this novel for all readers of historical fiction (although the book is technically set too recent to qualify), war fiction, and international domestic fiction. If you enjoyed All the Light We Cannot See and The Tiger's Wife, you will definitely not want to miss this one.