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Zlata's Diary: A Child's Life in Sarajevo

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In a voice both innocent and wise, touchingly reminiscent of Anne Frank's, Zlata Filipovic's diary has awoken the conscience of the world. Now thirteen years old, Zlata began her diary just before her eleventh birthday, when there was peace in Sarajevo and her life was that of a bright, intelligent, carefree young girl. Her early entries describe her friends, her new skis, her family, her grades at school, her interest in joining the Madonna Fan Club. And then, on television, she sees the bombs falling on ...
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Overview

In a voice both innocent and wise, touchingly reminiscent of Anne Frank's, Zlata Filipovic's diary has awoken the conscience of the world. Now thirteen years old, Zlata began her diary just before her eleventh birthday, when there was peace in Sarajevo and her life was that of a bright, intelligent, carefree young girl. Her early entries describe her friends, her new skis, her family, her grades at school, her interest in joining the Madonna Fan Club. And then, on television, she sees the bombs falling on Dubrovnik. Though repelled by the sight, Zlata cannot conceive of the same thing happening in Sarajevo. When it does, the whole tone of her diary changes. Early on, she starts an entry to "Dear Mimmy" (named after her dead goldfish): "SLAUGHTERHOUSE! MASSACRE! HORROR! CRIMES! BLOOD! SCREAMS! DESPAIR!" We see the world of a child increasingly circumscribed by the violence outside. Zlata is confined to her family's apartment, spending the nights, as the shells rain down mercilessly, in a neighbor's cellar. And the danger outside steadily invades her life. No more school. Living without water and electricity. Food in short supply. The onslaught destroys the pieces she loves, kills or injures her friends, visibly ages her parents. In one entry Zlata cries out, "War has nothing to do with humanity. War is something inhuman." In another, she thinks about killing herself. Yet, with indomitable courage and a clarity of mind well beyond her years, Zlata preserves what she can of her former existence, continuing to study piano, to find books to read, to celebrate special occasions - recording it all in the pages of this extraordinary diary.

In September 1991, shortly before war broke out on the streets of Sarajevo, 11-year-old Zlata Filipovic began to keep a diary. In a voice both innocent and wise, she wrote of the horrors of war--the deaths of friends, a shortage of food, and days spent in fear--and issued a compelling plea for peace that has moved parents and children, and will continue to awaken the conscience of the world.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A graphic firsthand look at the war in Sarajevo by a Croatian girl whose personal world has collapsed, this vivid, sensitive diary sounds an urgent and compelling appeal for peace. Filipovic begins her precocious journal in autumn 1991 as a contented 10-year-old preoccupied with piano and tennis lessons and saturated with American movies, TV shows, books and rock music. Soon the bombs start falling; her friends are killed by shrapnel or snipers' bullets; her family's country house burns down, and they subsist on UN food packages, without gas, electricity or water, as thousands of Sarajevans die. Filipovic, whose circle of friends included Serbs, Croats and Muslims, blames the former Yugoslavia's politicians for dividing ethnic groups and playing hell with people's lives. She and her parents escaped to Paris, and her diary, originally published in Croat by UNICEF, was reissued in France and has already been much written about in the U.S. Photos not seen by PW. 200,000 first printing; film rights to Universal; first serial to Newsweek; author tour Mar.
The ALAN Review - Joan F. Kaywell
When Zlata Filipovic, "the Anne Frank of Sarajevo," began her diary entries on September 2, 1991, her life was typical of many eleven-year olds. She enjoyed watching MTV, vacationing with her family, going out for pizza, playing the piano, and going to school. Even after the bombing of Dubrovnic, war was something too far away to be real, believable, or concerned about. By the time she ended her diary entries on October 13, 1992, war was very real and life was anything but typical: a wrapped tomato was the "nicest `bouquet' she ever got"; rationed electricity was both a blessing and a curse; and the dead, wounded, and constant bombings were a part of her daily existence. Referring to the Serbian, Croatian, and Muslim warlords as "kids," Zlata frequently remarks how she-ironically-has lost her childhood forever. Although Zlata's writing skill is reflective of her age, readers may find it useful to chart names and refer to maps to assist with their reading.
Library Journal
In September 1991, at the beginning of a new school year and while war was already as close as Croatia, Filipovic, a ten-year-old girl in Sarajevo began keeping a diary about her school friends, her classes, and her after-school activities. The following spring that childhood world disappeared when the war moved to Sarajevo. Instead of school and parties, her world came to consist of cowering in cellars during the shelling, trying to survive despite intermittent electric power and water supply, and sadness: sadness when friends and relatives left the besieged city for a safer area; sadness when those who remained behind were killed; sadness that her childhood had vanished. Filipovic has no interest in the politics of this war she dismisses all political leaders contemptuously as ``kids'' but only in its effects on those close to her. The power of her book lies precisely in its concern with innocence lost. Recommended for popular collections.-Marcia L. Sprules, Council on Foreign Relations Lib., New York
School Library Journal
YA-From September 1991 through October 1993, young Zlata Filipovic kept a diary. When she began it, she was 11 years old, concerned mostly with friends, school, piano lessons, MTV, and Madonna. As the diary ends, she has become used to constant bombing and snipers; severe shortages of food, water, and gas; and the end of a privileged adolescence in her native Sarajevo. Zlata has been described as the new Anne Frank. While the circumstances are somewhat similar, and Zlata is intelligent and observant, this diary lacks the compelling style and mature preceptions that gave Anne Frank's account such universality. The entire situation in the former Yugoslavia, however, is of such currency and concern that any first-person account, especially one such as this that speaks so directly to adolescents, is important and necessary. While not great literature, the narrative provides a vivid description of the ravages of war and its effect upon one young woman, and, as such, is valuable for today's YAs.-Susan H. Woodcock, King's Park Library, Burke, VA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780453008990
  • Publisher: HighBridge Company
  • Publication date: 3/1/1994
  • Format: Cassette
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Product dimensions: 4.43 (w) x 7.07 (h) x 0.79 (d)

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2002

    The Harsh Life Of Zlata's

    I totally recomend this book to any eighth graders out there, expecially when you have a book report due! You could get the book as little as a week away from the day you have to turn the report in. And the questions that you have to anwser, well, you get over 50% of the anwsers just from the introduction section.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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