4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
Brilliantly narrated, I couldn't put it down!, 8 May 2008
I am ashamed to admit that when the Balkan conflict was happening, my reaction to it was probably no more than the average person, because I did not have a personal connection to it. Years later, I married a woman who had experienced the siege of Sarajevo and that all changed, because I felt the need to better understand what Marija had gone through. I have now read many books on the siege and the Balkan conflict in general; some are highly partisan, a few are balanced and well-written, a very few are truly outstanding. This book is one of the latter.
Michael Nicholson writes with the narrative style of a man who has spent a career bringing us human-interest stories from wars in places most people have long since forgotten about. He weaves together both his own story as a journalist covering the first year of the siege of Sarajevo, and his meeting with Natasha and her friends at the orphanage, and his decision to put journalistic impartiality aside and rescue her by smuggling her out of Bosnia.
One the one hand, the story is a graphic account of the horrors of modern warfare, and especially of what happens to civilians helplessly caught up in it. Yet on the other, it is also a gripping, heart-warming tale of how one man made a difference by helping a child to survive and escape from the carnage.
The latter part of the book covers Natasha's first few months in England with the Nicholson family, when it is not yet clear if she will be allowed to stay or if the mother who abandoned her as a baby will demand her return to Bosnia. It hints at how Natasha begins to learn English and to adjust to life in England, and the book ends on a happy note - with the Nicholson's successful adoption of Natasha.
Yet in a sense, you know that the story does not end there. This book was written by Michael, from his perspective and that of his family. Perhaps one day, Natasha herself will write volume 2, "Natasha's Own Story", about what happened next...