"Zlata's Diary" Essay

Essay by i.blueskyJunior High, 9th gradeA, December 2008

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I chose to read a book that sounded really interesting to me. I found out about it last year during one of the Book Festivals. The book is called Zlata’s Diary, and it is written by Zlata Filipović. It is from the Memoir/Autobiography genre. This is a diary that was published, and the author became really famous because of all the things that she had to go through, and because of her experiences. She had many journalists coming to interview her. The setting is in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina during the war in 1901 through 1903.

In the beginning of the book Zlata is a eleven-year-old girl living in Sarajevo. Her life is perfect and she comes from a high-class family. She is into piano lessons, friends, school, music, etc. Suddenly she looses all of that due to a horrifying experience of war. She would have never imagined her life turning out like that.

She feels that the war is taking her childhood away, and she cannot live in peace. Sarajevo is being badly shelled and she witnesses how the world around her is being destroyed.

The most important idea in this book is how a war can take away the childhood of a person. Zlata couldn’t have a normal life anymore and she had to spend days in the cellar, because it was dangerous to go outside. She was used to a good life, so this was a really drastic change for her. She suffers a lot through war, and her days become like torture. She says, “Sometimes I say—this isn’t life, it’s an imitation of life,” (page 80). Her life really seems like an imitation, because you just wouldn’t be able to call that life. She also comments about her childhood saying, “My childhood, youth and life are slipping away while I wait. We stand as witnesses who didn’t deserve to have to live through all this,” (page 172). She says that it’s not fair for innocent people to suffer in that way, and that she isn’t able to live because of the war.

In Sarajevo they have nothing except bombs, deaths, fire, attacks, and snipers. There is no electricity, no water, no gas or heating in winter, and food shortage. Her family’s life and the life of everyone is miserable, and every minute they have bombs falling near their houses. Many people that they know have evacuated, and others have been badly wounded or killed. The second very important theme in the book is the feeling of loneliness and being abandoned by all the people around you. Everyone becomes separated and it is really hard to hear news from one another. People are being killed and their families don’t even know about it. Zlata says, “What would brighten up my day is peace, what would brighten up my day is to have them back and to have back everything I’ve lost,” (page131).

Zlata is a child that questions politics, and she doesn’t understand why the war is going on. She thinks it is pointless, and that the only result of it is the loss of many innocent lives. She is living in a world full of fear and danger, and she doesn’t know when it may end. “The forces of war don’t know anything about love and the desire to save something. They just know how to destroy, burn, take things away,” (page 49), says Zlata. She is asking for peace, because war is unbearable and awful.

I can find many connections in this book with Anne Frank. Zlata is very similar to Anne Frank because of the things that they go through and the conditions that they live in. She says, “Some people compare me with Anne Frank. That frightens me, Mimmy. I don’t want to suffer her fate,” (page 159-160). Those people say that because of the diary that she keeps and how they are planning to publish it into a book. Both Zlata and Anne Frank have to loose their childhood to a war and they didn’t have good conditions.

I liked this book a lot, because in every page it had something happening. Zlata described the war situation every day and would put her feelings and opinion. This book was full of good passages and ideas, because on every page she would say something new, and each time her experiences would add up. She was a child that spoke for thousands of people. I didn’t understand much about why the war was happening (neither did she), and all the political details seemed hard, but the most important idea was suffering, and I could get that very well. On every page she would express her anger and her fear, and I felt really bad for her. This book I would recommend it to the girls, because even tough it is about war, it is still written from a girl’s point of view, so a boy might not be as identified with this book as a girl would. From one to ten, I would say that this book was a nine, and it made me realize a lot of things.