Rated 5 stars ***** ARC. ebook. Bloomsbury YA. To be published September 8, 2020 (Includes “A note from the author,” “Resources for further reading,” and “Movies about the Bosnian War.”)
Amra was almost 16 years old, a top student with lots of friends, eager to go to college. Serbs, Croatians and Muslims had always gotten along in her country and, though signs of unrest were visible, it didn’t worry her parents. War was declared in 1992, and Serbs turned on the Muslims in the country. Though Amra’s family had never practiced its religion, Serbs believed Muslims were terrorists who needed to be removed from society.
One dark day soldiers invaded her town, now filled with refugees, and Amra met a beautiful cat that followed her home. Her mother declared that a maci (Bosnian word for cat) couldn’t be allowed in the house. They tried to get her to leave, but she kept returning. Maci became a member of the household and, as the war dragged on, she was Amra’s shield against fear, depression and uncertainty. Maci was the family’s good luck charm, protecting them from many evils, giving everyone hope for peace and a better future. The never-ending war sapped their strength, but Maci brought it back to them in spades.
Amra’s memories of the four years she and her family endured the trials of war are raw and real. She recounts episodes where thousands of Muslim men, women and children were killed in bombings and massacres by the Serbian Army, and thousands of girls and women were forced into rape camps. She could have been one of those statistics if not for Maci, her love for learning, and her strong family unit. “The cat I never named” is her story, and her words will stay with readers long after the last page is turned.
Though I dislike cats, and am allergic to them, reading about this friendly, loving cat who acted more like a faithful dog brought tears to my eyes. I’m thinking they might have been allergic tears, but faithful Maci made me into a fan.
Highly recommended for ages 16 and older, including Adults.
I received a digital advance reading copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.