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My Childhood Under Fire


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About the Author

Nadja Halilbegovich is a survivor of the war in Bosnia. She was twelve when the war began and throughout the war she wrote her diary. At the age of 14, she published her diary in the war-torn city of Sarajevo and became known as the Bosnian Anne Frank. She was wounded by a bombshell and still carries seven pieces of shrapnel in her legs. She escaped the war at the age of 16 and finished high school and university in the United States. She became an active public speaker for peace and tolerance.
In 2006, she published a book entitled My Childhood Under Fire in the U.S. and Canada. Her book has been awarded the ?2006 Best Book Award? under Social Studies by the Society of School Librarians International as well as nominated for the Norma Fleck Award and the Golden Oak Award. A French translation has been released in 2007.


Written over a span of three years, Halilbegovich's trenchant journal opens on May 31, 1992, almost two months after the then 12-year-old's life changed drastically with the outbreak of war in her native Bosnia. Her inaugural entry explains that she took pen to paper because "I can no longer bear all my piled-up feelings." Indeed, a range of Nadja's deeply felt emotions emerges in these entries: sadness at the loss of her pre-war existence and contact with friends, outrage at the constant bombings and escalating death toll, and dismay at the apparent indifference of the international community ("They say that thirteen thousand children have been killed in my country. Yet the world remains silent"). In one of the most dramatic entries, she recounts being seriously injured in an explosion that rocks her apartment building, just after she steps outside for a rare breath of fresh air. Brighter moments include the girl participating in a weekly radio quiz for youngsters, recording her poetry for the radio, and performing with a renowned children's choir. Curious readers may be frustrated that the author mentions the roots of the conflict only in vague terms ("We've heard that our defenders are advancing in the battles across Bosnia, so the aggressors are taking their revenge on Sarajevo"), and some may feel that the "looking back" sections interrupt the narrative flow. Yet this immediate and resonant account underscores war's devastating impact-especially on the lives of children. Ages 10-up. (Mar.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Gr 6 Up-Halilbegovich was just 12 years old on April 6, 1992, when she was told there would be no school that day, not because of a holiday, but because of a war. In her diary, she reveals the hurt, pain, and despair brought on by the fighting within her country and describes the bombings, deaths, and destruction. Through journal entries from her childhood, and looking-back sections written as an adult, readers are exposed to the realities of war. During her teen years, she experienced a life she never imagined-loss of friends, neighbors, and security. In 1995, Halilbegovich was granted passage to the United States. She left Sarajevo through a tunnel, with her mother encouraging her as she went, "Remember your dream and keep walking!" These words have stayed with her as she works for peace. This book is similar to Zlata Filipovic's Zlata's Diary (Penguin, 1995), but that book begins and ends with the author's words as a young girl. This is an important book as it reveals the effects of a little-known war on innocent people from a personal perspective.-Denise Moore, O'Gorman Junior High School, Sioux Falls, SD Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Her terse vignettes replay the horror of her comfortable home torn apart. The haunting question, 'Why did the world allow it to happen?' drives her powerful plea for peace.--Booklist
[I]mmediate and resonant.--Publishers Weekly
This is an important book as it reveals the effects of a little-known war on innocent people from a personal perspective.--School Library Journal
This book keeps readers entranced as they learn of the horror, savagery and cruelty that took place during the war.--Canadian Children's Book News

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