In Hotel Sarajevo (Turtle Point Press), Jack Kersh has succeeded in translating his story into the thoughts and feelings of Alma, a fourteen-year-old girl who is caught in the hell of Sarajevo under siege. Alma is part of a group of war orphans who live in the abandoned Hotel Sarajevo, a makeshift family who scrounge for food and human contact while around them rockets and snipers' bullets demolish their lives. With nothing left of their families, their homes or even their city, these children are caught with one foot in childhood and one foot in adolescence, and every step they take could be their last.
Alma, the narrator, describes her hellish world partly in the hopeful voice of a child, and partly in the dispassionate words of someone who has been "raped only once. The soldier was rough but not violent, and seemed to do it not because he wanted to but because that's what soldiers do ... Afterwards I did not cry, but merely straightened my dress and returned to the others."