ZLATA’S DIARY begins in September of 1991 as a typical fifth-grade enthusiasm, recording the beginning of school in Sarajevo and vacations to Jahorina, the “most beautiful mountain in the world.” Within six weeks, her hometown was at war, and she was soon facing deprivation and the death of friends and classmates.
Often there was no gas or electricity. Zlata and her father were forced to haul buckets of water to their apartment building. Bombs were falling continuously, forcing the family to move into their damp, dark cellar. Sometimes Zlata would be left by herself while both of her parents worked. Constantly worried about the safety of her relatives and her own well being, she feared that the war would never end and poured her deepest feelings into her beloved diary, which she named Mimmy.
Most of Zlata’s friends had moved earlier to escape the progressively worsening conflict. When bombs and shrapnel killed those who remained, she wrote in frustration: “STOP SHOOTING” and “PEACE, PEACE, PEACE!” In a final entry dated October 17, 1993, written before sending her diary “out into the world” to be published, Zlata recorded the results of a terrible day of bombing: 590 shells beginning at 4:30 a.m., six dead, fifty-six wounded. “I keep thinking that we’re alone in this hell,” she wrote. Nevertheless, she refused to yield to despair. With youthful heroes and loving family members confirming her belief in the ultimate decency of humanity, she chose to share this touching record of hope in the midst of tragedy.