Debut author Softic shares her family’s moving ordeal in war-torn Bosnia-Herzegovina in a meditation on the sustaining power of faith.
The author’s father died in 1956, when she was 6 years old, and her impoverished mother struggled to retain the family’s farm in northern Bosnia-Herzegovina, her children’s only inheritance. The sole child to progress in school beyond the eighth grade, she achieved a bachelor’s degree in psychology and pedagogy. She happily married a doctor, Husein, settled on the inherited farm, and eventually had two children. But in the early 1990s, the country succumbed to rising ethnic tensions and dissolved into the Yugoslav Wars. The family was Bosnian Muslim, a minority that many of their fellow citizens, including Roman Catholic Croats and Orthodox Christian Serbs, wanted out of the area. Her daughter, Aida, left to study in the United States and Husein immigrated to Austria to escape the conflict, but the rest of the family stayed because the author’s infirm mother-in-law, Nana, couldn’t travel. As a result, the author was on her own with Nana and her own teenage son, Samir. Their vulnerability opened them up to increasingly violent attacks and predation as the war escalated. Overall, though, this is more a memoir of faith than a history of the war. For example, Softic tells of how her strength to survive came from her faith in Islam: “I am confident in His protection and in His mercy, so I do not have to cry.” That said, the narrative style lacks polish and readers will find it difficult to clearly determine the chronology of the story. Readers with only a basic knowledge of the conflict will be particularly challenged to follow the plot. These minor deficits aside, however, it remains a strong personal story about an underrepresented conflict for informed readers.
A prescient memoir about one woman’s emotional triumph over war and religious persecution.