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  1. Hi Everyone!
    I have always wanted to take the time to figure out what happened to Yugoslavia! I was having my second and third babies during this time and it seemed so weird to have a country called Yugoslavia one day then suddenly it was no more, and no one seemed clear as to why this was. It’s not so unusual to lose and gain countries today!
    The perspective of Ana in these first few chapters is so interestingly written. The confusion of a ten-year-old, told from an adult memory—a memory still struggling to understand while afraid to look too closely at the memory.
    It seemed to me this book was called ‘fiction’ but it read so true, I had to check. An interview with the author stated the book was born from a visit to relatives after she graduated high school. The story emerged from these threads of stories. The cigarette story that opens the book, and the gun games were from her relatives.
    Sarah stated she was driven to place the book exactly in history and so, labored over details of the war; drawing maps of troops, road closures at the exact time of the closures etc. all the while making fictional changes to keep the novel reading as a story. She noted it was the most factually accurate parts that people would call our as hardest to believe.
    Most moving to me has been how the adults wanted to keep hope alive for the children. The teachers, the parents and Ana’s father. I wondered if I would make the same choice for a child of mine. Honestly, I’d not want my little girl to live in such an uncertain and dangerous time without me or her father. I am fairly certain I’d have let her be shot along with us.
    Can’t wait to hear what you all think!
    Chris

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  2. Hello group,
    I hope everyone is having a great semester so far. My name is Sierra Crawford and I am a freshman at USCB. I have set many goals for my education as far as advancing to a bachelor’s degree. My major in USCB is nursing because I want to have the ability of helping people treat their illness. Having a heart that never hardens, a temper that never tires and a touch that never hurts.
    The book “Girl at War” is a powerful novel of a 10-year-old girl who has survived through the most tempestuous times. As it was stated in chapter 4, “Other times, we played every-man-for-himself war, in which you got three lives, and everyone got to kill everybody else indiscriminately” (50). As this caught my attention, it worries me that children have no guidance from wrongs and rights of violence. Within this time, they were finding different ways to protect themselves from being got! However, these are young children learning to attack people in a war, instead of playing at a park. The bad part about this is that the children were misusing their protection such as sandbags to learn new ways to engage in the war, such as using guns. Do children do not understand violence with guns can be harmful. In their world they do not view the gun matter as being a tool that causes more than war, it can cause a lot of deaths. I chose this line because it is very relatable. In my generation today, children turn to guns and do not understand the consequences behind guns. I can only imagine how this will be affective to them in the late chapters. As the children move forward, they will view people differently and behave in an unmannered way.
    Also, another point I found relatable in this book is Ana does not share a close relationship with her mom. Ana’s mom wants her to be someone Ana highly disagrees with. Ana is a tomboy and her mom wants her to be a girl who bakes cakes. However, as this was stated in chapter 4 “If my mother was disappointed by my tomboyish tendencies, she may have found solace in the fact that nearly everything sustaining my existence was free” (44). Ana wanted to experience her life differently. This also relates back to why she was so entertained by the war. Ana was a complex person. Ana did not have the life of a millionaire. She was given hand me down clothing. Changing your lifestyle can affect the changes in your life and Ana was afraid of not being accepted for who she really was. I really felt bad reading these chapters because Ana was facing different challenges throughout. I really enjoyed reading this book. I hope to find out how the ending for Ana turned out.
    Thank you!
    -Sierra

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  3. Dear fellow group members:

    It is a pleasure to be a member of your group, and I look forward to working with all of you. My names Edra Stephens, I’m from Hilton Head Island, and a non-traditional student trying to complete my degree. Girl at War, a book I may not have traditionally pick-up to read I’m enjoying. I like the writer’s style it flows easily while giving you information that explores living in a war-torn area.
    One of the first things that really strikes you is Ana’s godfather sent her to the store for cigarettes and the owner asked, “do you want Serbian or Croatian?” (pg6) That gave an idea that everything was about to start changing very swiftly in her life.
    The cigarette incident also takes me back to the opening line “The War in Zagreb began over a pack of cigarettes.” Do you think the shop owner asked that question so he could survive a dilemma, and nobody would have seen trouble coming?

    What do you think of the cigarettes, and do you think this will have any lingering effects on Ana?

    Regards,
    Edra

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  4. Hello Group,
    I hope everyone is having a great semester so far! My name is Gracie and I am a sophomore but this is my first year here at USCB. I am an English Education major and my goal is to teach and share my love with English and writing with high schoolers.
    The book “Girl at War” tells the story of Ana, a ten-year-old Croatian girl who’s life gets interrupted by war. I personally adored the story being told from a child’s point of view, its such a unique point of view for a wartime story because of the innocence and corruption that occurs. Seeing Ana go from a carefree and happy child in the first chapter to a shell of who she was at the end of part 1. I am very interested to see where Ana goes from here and how she recovers from the traumatic experiences she just had. Another plot point I am excited to see unravel would be Rahela and Ana’s relationship. Do they get reunited? It mentioned in the book that Rahela was going to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, then the back cover talks about Ana going to college in Manhatten. I predict she may go to the states to search for her sister, or maybe she ends up there as a refugee.

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  5. This book! I remember some of these things. We didn’t get much information then, like Dr. Mcoy said, there weren’t cell phones that I remember. The US was silent on the story unfolding there. Or maybe I was just a busy mom and could not stay awake to watch the news. But I do remember an outcry about human rights violations and the UN moving in (sorta/kinda) I remember the US consciously taking a powder on this war and I wondered why when usually we poked our nose in everyone’s war. Page 75…Sarajevo was on edge, the expectation and anxiety almost palpable… This struck me as it seems that we had all been in this quiet anxiety for a long time and for the first time since Viet Nam. Most of you were probably born into this anxiety-but it wasn’t always like that for kids or adults! So hearing Ana’s perspective hits me as so incredibly sad. I want to keep saying, (even tho I know this is fiction..) I’m so sorry!!! We didn’t know!!!

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  6. This was an amazing book. I really enjoyed reading as much as I have. However, to answer your question Edra, “What do you think of the cigarettes, and do you think this will have any lingering effects on Ana”?
    I think the cigarettes’ was just a starter of what was coming soon for them, because a few days passes, and things started to begin. I think the cigarettes was to give hints and aware them what would was possibly coming. Also, he knew exactly what she wanted but he acts as if he was baffled. Yes, I think this have lingering effects on Ana because she has memories that never ends. She will always remember that day about the man with the cigarettes. She “Filter 160s, I said, committing into memory”. (7) This shows that Ana keeps everything into memory. As the few scenes goes on, Ana starts to feel differently about the war. She feels as if the war is a game. So yes, the cigarettes has affected Ana tremendously.

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  7. I sort of made mistakes, but as a game in the previous comment I posted. I was referring to how she is never home during the time things are starting to happen, she starts to play a game with the children in chapter 4 as if violence is acceptable. Ana is a tomboy, which is understandable, that is her personality starts to change overtime.

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  8. Hello Group,
    The more I read this book, the more I fall in love with it and want to talk to all my friends about it, much like what happened with Exit West. This book falls into my favorite category of book, the ones that make you feel something while also teaching you indirectly about something. I went into this book not knowing anything about the Yugoslavia civil war, but I can now say I have a base knowledge just from reading these first few parts. I have really enjoyed reading Chris’s comments on the book and her recollecting of the events. I was not alive for the war in Yugoslavia and was only 7 months old when 9/11 happened, so it is very interesting to me to see the point of view from someone who can actually remember these events and how she can apply these memories to the book. I am very excited to further see how Ana grows and deals with the world around her and the trauma she’s faced and how it impacts her “new life” in America.
    I can’t wait to hear more from y’all!
    Gracie

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  9. Good evening everyone,
    Chris, you are right I was alive during this time, and an adult. Remembering the Olympics stands out in my memory more then the exact details of the war. There should have been more of an outcry; however, without social media and the new outlets being different that was a time of newspapers. I think. It is very sad.
    Sierra, your remark on the children’s game every-man-for-himself catches your attention as you may not think this is not a typical children’s game. It also makes you wonder what was going through the children’s mind as they created and played this game. Often, we create our own defensives to cope with tragedy, could this be a coping mechanism.
    Its rather sad that their war game ends when the other team has died, morbidly reflecting their reality. The games as they were fun makes you wonder if all innocence is soon lost, and how quickly their childhood is gone.
    Regards,
    Edra

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  10. Good afternoon everyone,

    We do not have any new post currently. This picture reminds me of Gracie’s, statement “seeing Ana go from a carefree and happy child.” Often, we don’t realize how things affect children. I look at my grands with their mask, and wonder if they truly understand, they are four and six or is it much like a game. The author has shown us how children face trauma and go from playing with smiles to smiles with guns in their hands killing. Despite any cultural differences in the reading, one thing is clear that to children it does not matter, they just want to be happy.
    The picture below shows exactly that, children with guns, smiles, along with a terrified child that appears about to lose his brains. This picture reminds me very much of the innocence, and childhood that Ana, Luka, and their friends lost. It also gives a glance of how child soldiers may look and how they imitate what they have seen. http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3362/3663052008_59a0d6294c.jpg

    Regards,
    Edra

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  11. Hello everyone,
    For my representation of how I view Girl at War is from the image below I used. I picked that photo because throughout the chapters Anna does not have the ability to buy new clothing. In order for her to have a great look from the hand me down clothing she was receiving from everyone, she had to scrub them because there was no way for them to wash them. In chapter 4 she states, “On the weekends we spent our mornings scrubbing the stains from our new old clothes, wringing out each other’s memories” (44). It affects Ana because she wonders where the hand me down clothing comes from. Ana was used to t-shirts. However, this picture just takes me back to the quote I mentioned, because the clothes she had were to be scrubbed so they could be clean. Ana wanted to have the experience of the royal family at the top of the chain, but she knew that was not possible for her.

    https://media.gettyimages.com/photos/poor-middleaged-german-housewife-doing-laundry-in-backyard-scrubbing-picture-id50393664?s=612×612

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  12. You all! So interesting!!!
    I have only images of the time I went to Palestine during intefada, which is all the time as of recent, but it was a scary new version of intefada. We lived with Palestinian christians who were the red-headed-step-child (hope not offensive, we are redheaded in our family) of everyone. Their families had been run off their lands when Tata Who we stayed with) was a child. She was in her 80s in 1998. she remembered running for days to escape the Muslims. Then in Palestine, and now a grandmother, her family had woken one day to see Israeli bull dozers coming to raise their farms and homes–again. That was when Sharon said, “take every high hill”. They were dispaced to slum-like areas. They had lost all rights, Tata’s daughter, a lawyer forced to downgrade to a secretary if she wanted to feed her family. The stories were horrific and so very sad. I didn’t know any of this before I went so I was in a kind of shock mode most of the trip. Everyone traveled around with gas masks waiting for the next air raid siren or bomb. I was there 8 really hard days. but the Palestinians were so focused on making sure we were taken care of though they had nothing. I mentioned how much I loved their coffee and the next morning a turkish coffee pot and coffee was hanging in a bag on my door. I cried. I was careful not to mention anything I liked again.
    These scenes so remind me of what the disintegrating Yugoslavia must have looked like. How the people, though so afraid, took care of each other, the way Ana was taken in and cared for so tenderly.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Hello Group,
    For my representation of Girl At War, I chose a commercial. Ever since I started this book, I was greatly reminded of this commercial. While it is not about the same war, it shows the same struggle and tragedy that Ana went through. Her life was interrupted by the horrors from war and even once she gets out of the war zone, she is still suffering from the trauma. Much like how it was described with Ana, you can see the light and happiness escape the little girl as the war went on around her. This commercial not only shows Ana’s story but the stories of so many children that have had their lives disrupted by war. It is so important that books like Girl At War and commercials like this bring light to tragedies like this.

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