Fifteen year old Selma is a normal teenager until her world is torn upside down when the Bosnian war begins. After her father is arrested her Mum sends Selma away to stay with her aunt in the hope she will be safe but the city is attacked and Selma watches helplessly as her family are murdered before her eyes. Dragged away to a concentration camp Selma suffers physical and sexual abuse at the hands of her captors and starts to believe death would be the easier option.
Sanela Ramic Jurich paints us a vivid picture of the horrors that took place during the Bosnian war allowing the reader to put themselves in the place of the characters, feeling their pain and terror. The book felt more like a biography than a novel so the depiction of the soldiers raping Selma and the other young girls was just one of many very disturbing scenes to read. A lot of the book has a darkness to it that I found very depressing, this is not the type of escapism I enjoy but it does help to occasionally read this type of book to remind ourselves how lucky we are to live in a peaceful time and place.
Selma realised that even in her darkest hour there was room for hope and eventually after she moved to America with her mother and son her dreams were realised. This turns out to be a sweet love story with a happy ending which helps to put to the back of our minds the horrible stuff that came at the start. I found this to be a very touching and heartfelt story. Kudos to the author for having the strength to draw on her own experiences to write this fictional book and remind us that every war has its share of innocent victims. Many of us choose to ignore or forget this fact in our need for ‘power’ or what we believe is ‘right’.
Copy supplied for review