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June 27 , 2009

Girl at War

A Novel


NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY BOOKPAGE, BOOKLIST, AND ELECTRIC LITERATURE • For readers of The Tiger’s Wife and All the Light We Cannot See comes a powerful debut novel about a girl’s coming of age—and how her sense of family, friendship, love, and belonging is profoundly shaped by war.

Zagreb, 1991. Ana Jurić is a carefree ten-year-old, living with her family in a small apartment in Croatia’s capital. But that year, civil war breaks out across Yugoslavia, splintering Ana’s idyllic childhood. Daily life is altered by food rations and air raid drills, and soccer matches are replaced by sniper fire. Neighbors grow suspicious of one another, and Ana’s sense of safety starts to fray. When the war arrives at her doorstep, Ana must find her way in a dangerous world.
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Marissa the rag doll has lived snuggled between the roots of an old oak tree for so long she has become a forest spirit. Her face and body have turned green. Her ears are now pointed like leaves. Her hair looks like a tangle of vines with purple berries. One day, children having a picnic discover her. Marissa surprises them by speaking. She offers…

New York, 2001. Ana is now a college student in Manhattan. Though she’s tried to move on from her past, she can’t escape her memories of war—secrets she keeps even from those closest to her. Haunted by the events that forever changed her family, Ana returns to Croatia after a decade away, hoping to make peace with the place she once called home. As she faces her ghosts, she must come to terms with her country’s difficult history and the events that interrupted her childhood years before.

Moving back and forth through time, Girl at War is an honest, generous, brilliantly written novel that illuminates how history shapes the individual. Sara Nović fearlessly shows the impact of war on one young girl—and its legacy on all of us. It’s a debut by a writer who has stared into recent history to find a story that continues to resonate today.

Praise for Girl at War
“Outstanding . . . Girl at War performs the miracle of making the stories of broken lives in a distant country feel as large and universal as myth.”The New York Times Book Review (Editor’s Choice)
“[An] old-fashioned page-turner that will demand all of the reader’s attention, happily given. A debut novel that astonishes.”Vanity Fair
“Shattering . . . The book begins with what deserves to become one of contemporary literature’s more memorable opening lines. The sentences that follow are equally as lyrical as a folk lament and as taut as metal wire wrapped through an electrified fence.”USA Today

“Gripping . . . Nović, in tender and eloquent prose, explores the challenge of how to live even after one has survived.”—O: The Oprah Magazine

“Powerful and vividly wrought . . . Nović writes about horrors with an elegant understatement. In cool, accomplished sentences, we are met with the gravity, brutality and even the mundaneness of war and loss as well as the enduring capacity to live.”San Francisco Chronicle

“Intimate and immense . . . a writer whose own gravity and talent anchor this novel.”The New York Times

“An important and profoundly moving reading experience.”—The National

“Remarkable.”—Julia Glass, The Boston Globe

“[A] powerful, gorgeous debut novel.”—Adam Johnson, The Week

“An unforgettable portrait of how war forever changes the life of the individual . . . a writer working with deep reserves of talent, heart, and mind.”—Gary Shteyngart, author of Super Sad True Love Story

From the Hardcover edition.
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