Some twenty years ago I was watching Newsround and saw a feature about Zlata, a girl from Sarajevo of my age whose diary had been published. I was fired with an enthusiasm to read the diary, but for some reason it never came my way. To my delight I discovered it recently on the book stall in the doctors' surgery (20p well spent). In fact, it contains an introduction by Krishnan Guru-Murthy (until this moment I had always thought it was Guru-Murphy) who was the presenter of Newsround at the time.
My overriding impression on finishing the book (which was a bit of a struggle to be honest, after all, it was written by a 12 year old) was that I should have read it then. Zlata's diary has been compared with that of Anne Frank which I have not read. However I would imagine that a major difference is that Zlata is told that her diary will be published around half-way through the book; it becomes her passport out of the war-torn city.
Zlata's experiences led me to feel sorrow for her, not so much because of the lack of food and water, not for the daily dilemma of whether the furniture should be cut up for firewood, and not even for her stolen childhood but more for the fact that she does not seem to know anything of God. She writes 'Oh God...' when friends are killed, but there is no answer because it is not a cry to a person. It comes across as just an expression, just empty words.