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Not My Turn to Die: Memoirs of a Broken Childhood in Bosnia Hardcover – April 2, 2008
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“[T]his is a powerful book, which shows how difficult it is to make peace after such a conflict, not least peace among neighbours.” --Financial Times
In 1992, Savo Heleta was a young Serbian boy enjoying an idyllic, peaceful childhood in Gorazde, a primarily Muslim city in Bosnia. At the age of just thirteen, Savo’s life was turned upside down as war broke out. When Bosnian Serbs attacked the city, Savo and his family became objects of suspicion overnight. Through the next two years, they endured treatment that no human being should ever be subjected to. Their lives were threatened, they were shot at, terrorized, put in a detention camp, starved, and eventually stripped of everything they owned. But after two long years, Savo and his family managed to escape. And then the real transformation took place.
From his childhood before the war to his internment and eventual freedom, we follow Savo’s emotional journey from a young teenager seeking retribution to a peace-seeking diplomat seeking healing and reconciliation. As the war unfolds, we meet the incredible people who helped shape Savo’s life, from his brave younger sister Sanja to Meho, the family friend who would become the family’s ultimate betrayer. Through it all, we begin to understand this young man’s arduous struggle to forgive the very people he could no longer trust. At once powerful and elegiac, Not My Turn to Die offers a unique look at a conflict that continues to fascinate and enlighten us.
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I highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone. It's a brutal, honest reflection of one of the darkest hours of human history. Yet the author shows us that there's beauty that can arise from the ugliness.
This book was read as part of a Chico University sociology class reading assignment (Dr. Song, SOCI354) and we were so profoundly affected by this it inspired the class to find ways to reach out and educate the general public about genocide.