Zlata's Diary by Zlata Filipović Review

Wednesday, 17 June 2015
Zlata's Diary: A Child's Life in Wartime Sarajevo, by Zlata Filipović
Publication: February 28, 2006, by Penguin
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir, History
Pages: 240
Format: Paperback
Source: Borrowed
Rating: ½

When Zlata’s Diary was first published at the height of the Bosnian conflict, it became an international bestseller and was compared to The Diary of Anne Frank, both for the freshness of its voice and the grimness of the world it describes. It begins as the day-today record of the life of a typical eleven-year-old girl, preoccupied by piano lessons and birthday parties. But as war engulfs Sarajevo, Zlata Filipovic becomes a witness to food shortages and the deaths of friends and learns to wait out bombardments in a neighbor’s cellar. Yet throughout she remains courageous and observant. The result is a book that has the power to move and instruct readers a world away.

My Thoughts: 

As you're reading this review, you'll most likely be suspecting that this is very much like Anne Frank's story. And this is not fiction, either, so don't make some masterful plan to prove me wrong, hah. *jokes* But I must say that Zlata's Diary cannot utterly even try to compete with Anne's diary at all, since this lacked so much, and had too much that took out the innocence and realism that it was supposed to bring.

Zlata Filipović was a young girl, too. But really, I'd like you to keep in mind that I'm not here to actually compare this diary to anything else, though Zlata did speak of allusions of Anne Frank and how people even told her that she was like her. So is that saying that if I wrote a diary and got it published, am I the new Anne Frank? No one can compare to Anne, a historical figure who went through so much to prevent hate and war, though she never got her wish fulfilled until after she passed away. I'm kind of debating why am I going to have to compare Anne's work and Zlata's work together for my English exam's essay. But yet again, there are so many contrasts that I'll surely go through. It's a win-win match.

"War is no joke, it seems. It destroys, kills, burns, separates, brings unhappiness."

The author begins writing her diary as a hobby, something to keep a track of her life and days that go by. She's a happy, innocent eleven-year-old who's misfortunately struck with the horrid events of the Bosnian war, one that just took place within the country. There were no bombs set because a country was battling them, it was all unluckiness, fate that simply destined her family and the other individuals of Sarajevo to have to go through this all. And here we have a diary that reminds everyone of the conflicts that were occurring not too long ago, closer to modern day than the Holocaust did.

I picked this diary up, thinking that the only reason why I decided to read it was because I was forced to by my English teacher. That sometimes is the situation and reason. And then, here I am, realizing that I've never heard of this book before, and it's something that would've interested me since I was a young girl. Having to put myself in the shoes of a young girl very much like me who was unlucky with her life and spent years fighting for survival seems like the thing that would've made me happy... when I was also eleven. Don't you think that one can better connect to the writer/protagonist if they're the same age, or possibly even stuck in the same situation? (Not that I was.)

There are many things that one can discuss with the subject of this diary. I bet that there are tons of things that even Zlata herself hadn't realized she was writing about until someone else mentioned it to her. Isn't that unique, you say? Yes, it truly is, since everyone can have a different viewpoint on her story, and if something was symbolism or smacked with the use of literary devices to brighten up it all. But I'm against all of the structural devices, my friends. This is a memoir, a life. It happened the way it happened and nothing is meant to be analyzed by the looks of writing. Personification? Parallelism? That seems like a joke (again speaking of my English class).

So as for the way it was written, I'd probably give the plot a 4 star rating. If it wasn't for Zlata's age at the time she had written this, I'd probably would've given it a 5. But I couldn't keep the thoughts of this being translated out of my mind. An eleven year old can't write like this, talking about the way a candle's light means something to her. I apologize, it's just, it seemed unrealistic, and I wished it stayed with simpler sentences and grammar, even though it was meant for a more mature audience. And with that said, I found myself drifting in and out of the book, becoming bored constantly since I wanted it to sound real, like Anne's did.

"How can you come to love an animal! She doesn't talk, but she speaks with her eyes, her paws, her meows, and I understand her."

Where was the character relationships of Zlata and her parents? I literally felt tears building up inside of me because I couldn't seem to find something special about their relationship. Maybe Zlata's father was a little more caring than the mother, but it all seemed to be about survival on their own and stubbornness. I can't even discuss that without feeling some kind of dislike towards her parents, who should really seek more love to come out of their only child, a young girl who's stuck in the worst possible situation of her time. Teach her how to love! By the way, I'm not trying to teach a lesson to no one here. 

A lot of my friends who also read this book for class admit that they hate Zlata—she's annoying and whatsoever. I HAVE TO DISAGREE. Zlata was cute, intelligent and reckless, she's a kid! Aren't kids supposed to be annoying, I tell them? The positive vibe she had coming off of her only made me love her more, and she was the perfect role for writing this call, to inform individuals about her life, although she hadn't known that people would begin to read it eventually. That's what happens to the people who become famous for something that seemed like a regularity for them, they just don't expect it. That's the special compassion that they all share. 

All in all, I see this as a memoir that can teach anyone, young or old, to see the bad things coming, even when you least expect it. This memoir's vibe may come to you as something cliché, especially by looking at its title, but I mostly see it as something that I'm glad to have read. With struggling moments that will leave you tearing up, hearing the characters stress and trying to see the positive sides of life, this can definitely leave you seeing that it mostly has it all. Forget about my negative comments and you surely will be able to give this a perfect ten rating. Go and live with this book, seek a new viewpoint on struggle.

What are some other books that have been compared to Anne Frank's?

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