Zlata's Diary: A Child's Life in Sarajevo by Zlata Filipovic. (Grades 6+)
In 1991 Zlata was living a normal life. She went to school, she had friends over for a birthday party, she watched MTV and sitcoms.
When war broke out in Sarajevo, Zlata's life changed forever. Suddenly she was thrust into a world where bombs pummeled her city every day. Innocent people were shot by snipers, so it was unsafe to leave the house. Schools were closed. Electricity, gas, and water only came on intermittently. Zlata and her family had done nothing wrong. They were like thousands of other Bosnians, caught in the crossfires of a war, trying their hardest just to survive.
One thing that really hit home for me is that Zlata is just about my age. On the very day that I was throwing my 10th birthday party, Zlata was carrying water from wells because they had no running water. She was receiving packages from the UN with "luxuries" like soap and cheese.
Zlata's descriptions are amazing. She writes about when springtime comes, but you can't tell because they've cut down all the trees. There are no trees to blossom, no birds to burst into song. This is a sobering book and an inspiring one.
Not appropriate for kids, but adult readers might also be interested in the graphic novel Fax from Sarajevo by Joe Kubert, which gives another perspective of the war.
Time reading/blogging: About 6 hours
Books: 2 (and part of a third)
Pages: 406 (and about 120 from another book which hopefully will be the next one finished/reviewed)