World in Between by Kenan Trebinčević
📚 World in Between 📚
Author: Kenan Trebinčević
Publisher: Clarion Books
Islamic Content: Muslim protagonist
Concerns: War, violence, bullying, cussing
Kenan is a talented fudbol player and everyone at school knows it, even his best friends. When political tensions arise, the war begins, Bosnian Muslims begin escaping and leaving town. Their hope for the madness to be shortlived, has them entrapped at home without being able to leave for nine months.
After nearly 3 decades of the Bosnian war, we finally see a children's novel that highlights an #ownvoices Bosnian Refugee story and his family's escape to safety, Bosnia to Vienna and finally Connecticut. This well written story follows Kenan and his family's comfortable life before things start taking a turn. His account of his best friends suddenly turning on him and his well liked teacher joining the local Serbian patrol and pointing a gun at Kenan, causes him disbelief. On their journey to escape, they find that in circumstances of war, there is no telling who you can and cannot trust. Their friends turning on the family, their neighbour freely helping themselves to Kenan's family and their belongings yet they find kindness and hope in people they never expected. When it comes to Islam, Kenan's grandmother practices and prays, and he refers to gems that his Majka Emina has taught him, and Kenan has visited a masjid once. It is made clear that it his family's Muslim identity is what they are being persecuted for.
One of the things that gets me thinking is how relatable is this account compared to an average Bosnian-Muslim family. Kenan and his family seem to have Serbian kinships as normal part of their daily life (which isn't relatable to Kosovars). I know that Former-Yugoslavia was not an ideal place for practicing Muslims to live in. They were second-class citizens when it came to job opportunities and livelihood.
Nonetheless, this is a based on the author's own experience and it is an important book for middle grade readers that will give them some insight to the events in Bosnia in the Balkans.