Zlata’s Diary begins as the daily musings of a typical 11-year-old girl, who loves music and her friends. Soon after she starts her diary, war breaks out and Sarajevo becomes a battleground that changes Zlata’s life forever. With no more school or music lessons, the highlights of Zlata’s days are birthdays celebrated with canned food rations, whilst her worst days find her saying goodbye to escaping family and grieving for lost friends.
I spent a few weeks travelling Eastern Europe a couple of years ago and Sarajevo was easily my favourite stop on my trip. I loved learning about the history of the city and found it so shocking that whilst I was a child growing up in the UK, there were children in Sarajevo living through a war. This book was recommended to me by one of the tour guides as a way to find out more about the effects the war had on these children. The diary starts a few months prior to the beginning of the conflict. Most of the entries are incredibly short, some only a few sentences, meaning that the diary has a very fast pace. Initially, it was really insightful to read the thought of an 11-year-old caught in the heart of this conflict, but it shortly became a little repetitive. It suffers from being likened to Anne Frank’s Diary, as it’s really nothing like it at all. There wasn’t much background about the conflict and very little discussion of how it was developing. It’s very clearly written by someone of this age, meaning the writing can be childish at times. This makes it feel authentic but doesn’t make for particularly great reading.
Rating: 2 / 5 stars
Read for the Magical Readathon, History of Magic exam.