Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Zlata is a 10 year old girl when the war in Yugoslavia breaks out. She starts her diary on the first day of 5th grade in 1991when war is just a topic on the news that is nowhere near her home. In March, 1992, the ethnic conflict starts making headlines and Zlata records it from her child like perspective.
In 1992, the city of Sarajevo is under siege and Zlata is stuck in the middle. All of her friends escape to other safer locales and Zlata is left alone with her parents unable to escape for two years. Her pets are out of food, there is no school, indefinitely, and she can't play outside because of snipers and the war is ruining Zlata's childhood.
The unique aspect of this book is that it is written by a child in the middle of a war. It is an true and honest perspective from a young girl who is unsure why these people can't get along and why would they want to hurt her friends and family. She talks a lot about birthday parties because it was a reason to be happy and celebrate when so much of their time was meant for survival.
Zlata's Diary contains some of her artwork, pictures of her family and of Sarajevo. It details how her diary named Mimmy came to be published and how she was able to exit her country to safety.
Yugoslavia no longer exists today and has been broken into much smaller ethnic countries. I had a pen pal from Yugoslavia in the late 1980's and we wrote up to the year of 1992. When the war started I never got another letter from her again. I tried looking for her on the internet after the war ended and it appears my pen pal friend disappeared from this world. I hope where ever she is, she is happy.
Zlata's Diary made me realize how fragile our perfect world is and that one day, war could be in our homeland. Then I think about all the countries at war today, places like Libya and Yemen and I wonder how their children are doing. Zlata's Diary is as relevant today as it was when it was written in 1992. God bless the children.