The Cat I Never Named: A True Story of Love, War, and Survival
The Cat I Never Named: A True Story of Love, War, and Survival

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Annotation: The stunning memoir of a Muslim teen struggling to survive in the midst of the Bosnian genocide--and the stray cat who protected her family through it all.
Genre: Biographies
Catalog Number: #216728
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Copyright Date: 2020
Edition Date: 2020
Pages: 370 p.
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 1-547-60453-0 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-8074-0
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-1-547-60453-1 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-8074-2
Dewey: 921
LCCN: 2020021991
Dimensions: 23 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
Kirkus Reviews
Now a professor in the U.S., Sabic-El-Rayess was 16 when the Serbian siege on her city of Bihać, Bosnia, began in 1992.Overnight, her life changed: She went from being a typical teenager, excited about her new volleyball shoes and seven-tiered birthday cake, to fleeing bullets. It felt as if overnight Sabic-El-Rayess went from attending her multiethnic STEM school to learning that the Serbs in her life, including her best friend and her favorite teacher, had fled; having received advance warning, they left Muslims, like her family, and Catholics behind to endure the impending siege. Sabic-El-Rayess’ innocence was soon swept away by the realities of war: She witnessed homes being blown up, bombs killing her childhood friends, and deprivation turning people against each other. Sabic-El-Rayess found unexpected solace in adopting Maci (“cat” in Bosnian), a stray calico who followed a Muslim refugee family into town. Maci quickly became a source of comfort for the family, who even credited her with saving their lives. The story boldly tackles the rawness of human emotion in times of severe distress, putting on full display the ways war brings out both the best and worst in people. Sabic-El-Rayess’ viewpoint as an adolescent girl juxtaposes her dreams of the future against fears of losing loved ones, rape camps, and starvation. The crude realities of war are animated by the combination of both graphic scenes of violence and intimate displays of affection and warmth.Unforgettable. (additional information, author’s note, resources) (Memoir. 14-18)
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
Now a professor in the U.S., Sabic-El-Rayess was 16 when the Serbian siege on her city of Bihać, Bosnia, began in 1992.Overnight, her life changed: She went from being a typical teenager, excited about her new volleyball shoes and seven-tiered birthday cake, to fleeing bullets. It felt as if overnight Sabic-El-Rayess went from attending her multiethnic STEM school to learning that the Serbs in her life, including her best friend and her favorite teacher, had fled; having received advance warning, they left Muslims, like her family, and Catholics behind to endure the impending siege. Sabic-El-Rayess’ innocence was soon swept away by the realities of war: She witnessed homes being blown up, bombs killing her childhood friends, and deprivation turning people against each other. Sabic-El-Rayess found unexpected solace in adopting Maci (“cat” in Bosnian), a stray calico who followed a Muslim refugee family into town. Maci quickly became a source of comfort for the family, who even credited her with saving their lives. The story boldly tackles the rawness of human emotion in times of severe distress, putting on full display the ways war brings out both the best and worst in people. Sabic-El-Rayess’ viewpoint as an adolescent girl juxtaposes her dreams of the future against fears of losing loved ones, rape camps, and starvation. The crude realities of war are animated by the combination of both graphic scenes of violence and intimate displays of affection and warmth.Unforgettable. (additional information, author’s note, resources) (Memoir. 14-18)
Bibliography Index/Note: Includes bibliographical references (p. 369-370).
Reading Level: 6.0
Interest Level: 7-12

The stunning memoir of a Muslim teen struggling to survive in the midst of the Bosnian genocide--and the stray cat who protected her family through it all. In 1992, Amra was a teen in Bihac, Bosnia, when her best friend said they couldn't speak anymore. Her friend didn't say why, but Amra knew the reason: Amra was Muslim. It was the first sign her world was changing. Then Muslim refugees from other Bosnian cities started arriving, fleeing Serbian persecution. When the tanks rolled into Bihac, bringing her own city under seige, Amra's happy life in her peaceful city vanished. But there is light even in the darkest of times, and she discovered that light in the warm, bonfire eyes of a stray cat. The little calico had followed the refugees into the city and lost her own family. At first, Amra doesn't want to bother with a stray; her family doesn't have the money to keep a pet. But with gentle charm this kitty finds her way into everyone's heart, and after a few near miracles when she seems to save the family, how could they turn her away? Here is the stunning true story of a teen who, even in the brutality of war, never wavered in her determination to obtain an education, maintain friendships, and even find a first love-and the cat who gave comfort, hope, and maybe even served as the family's guardian spirit.


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