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GIRL OF KOSOVO by Alice Mead


by Alice Mead

Age Range: 10 - 14

Pub Date: April 11th, 2001
ISBN: 0-374-32620-7
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

As in her novel Adem’s Cross (1996), Mead portrays the horrors of the Balkan conflict, this time through the eyes of a young Albanian girl. There has always been the presence of the Serbian army in Zana’s world, but in her 11th year, the real trouble begins. A neighboring farm is destroyed and the family massacred—and that is only the beginning. Shortly thereafter, there is a bombing and Zana’s two youngest brothers and father are killed. Zana herself is badly wounded from the shrapnel, especially in her ankle and hip. The tale follows her through several hospitals, alone and terrified. She is finally united with her family, but the tragedy has left her mother with few coping skills. Inadequate medical care, sporadic visits from an English doctor who has befriended her, and little hope of recovery contribute to Zana’s despondency. But when the village is destroyed and her neighbors threaten to attack Zana’s good friend, who is Serbian, Zana finds the courage to defend her and stand against the vicious crowd. Her father’s words “Don’t let them fill your heart with hate” come back to her and she realizes that she has friends who are considered enemies. In an afterword, the author indicates that the story is based on a family she met when she visited the refugee camps in Albania and Macedonia; the forward gives a short history of the area and sets the scene. This difficult tale will give readers a sense of the sufferings of war and the emotional struggle needed to survive against a totalitarian state. (Fiction. 10-14)