Two lives. Two worlds apart. One deeply compelling story set in both Bosnia and the United States, spanning decades and generations, about the brutality of war and the trauma of everyday life after war, about hope and the ties that bind us together.
Zara and her mother, Nadja, have a strained relationship. Nadja just doesn't understand Zara's creative passion for, and self-expression through, photography. And Zara doesn't know how to reach beyond their differences and connect to a closed-off mother who refuses to speak about her past in Bosnia. But when a bomb explodes as they're shopping in their local farmers' market in Rhode Island, Zara is left with PTSD--and her mother is left in a coma. Without the opportunity to get to know her mother, Zara is left with questions--not just about her mother, but about faith, religion, history, and her own path forward.
As Zara tries to sort through her confusion, she meets Joseph, whose grandmother is also in the hospital, and whose exploration of religion and philosophy offer comfort and insight into Zara's own line of thinking.
Told in chapters that alternate between Zara's present-day Providence, RI, and Nadja's own childhood in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the Bosnian War of the 1990s, We Are All That's Left shows the ways in which, no matter the time and place, struggle and tragedy can give way to connection, healing and love.
Praise for We Are All That's Left:
* "A multilayered view of tragedy and its repercussions." --Publishers Weekly, *STARRED REVIEW*
* "This complex, compelling story takes readers on a deep dive below the surface, exposing both the fragility of life and the redemptive bonds of love." --Booklist, *STARRED REVIEW*
"This important and timely novel is a painful, lovely exploration of mending a mother-daughter relationship." --Kirkus Reviews
Arcos (Out of Reach) depicts the horrors of the 1990s Bosnian conflict in this powerful novel that juxtaposes images of the war against a fictionalized terrorist attack in Rhode Island. The story begins in the present day with teenage Zara bemoaning the fact that she feels distant from her mother, Nadja. Zara knows that Nadja was a victim of the Bosnian war, but many questions remain unanswered. What are the nightmares that make Nadja scream out in the night? Why does she never speak of her wartime experiences? Then Zara experiences a trauma firsthand. While at the farmers' market with her mother and brother, a bomb goes off, leaving both children injured and their mother in a coma. Now, facing the possibility that Nadja may never awaken, Zara feels a pressing need to understand her family history. Arcos alternates Zara's battle with PTSD and her quest to find clues to her mother's past with the story of young Nadja's struggles to survive after her entire family is killed by Serbs. The result is a multilayered view of tragedy and its repercussions. Ages 12 up.