Title: We Are All That’s Left
Author: Carrie Arcos
Publisher: Philomel Books
Publishing Date: May 15th, 2018
Format: eARC & ARC
Number of Pages: 400
Genre: Young Adult Realistic Fiction, Historical Fiction
Two lives. Two worlds apart. One deeply compelling story set in both Bosnia and the United States, spanning decades and generations, about the brutality of war and the trauma of everyday life after war, about hope and the ties that bind us together.
Zara and her mother, Nadja, have a strained relationship. Nadja just doesn’t understand Zara’s creative passion for, and self-expression through, photography. And Zara doesn’t know how to reach beyond their differences and connect to a closed-off mother who refuses to speak about her past in Bosnia. But when a bomb explodes as they’re shopping in their local farmers’ market in Rhode Island, Zara is left with PTSD–and her mother is left in a coma. Without the opportunity to get to know her mother, Zara is left with questions–not just about her mother, but about faith, religion, history, and her own path forward.
As Zara tries to sort through her confusion, she meets Joseph, whose grandmother is also in the hospital, and whose exploration of religion and philosophy offer comfort and insight into Zara’s own line of thinking.
Told in chapters that alternate between Zara’s present-day Providence, RI, and Nadja’s own childhood in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the Bosnian War of the 1990s, We Are All That’s Left shows the ways in which, no matter the time and place, struggle and tragedy can give way to connection, healing and love.
***I want to thank Penguin Random House for allowing me to take part on the blog tour and providing an ARC of this book. This, by any means, did not affect nor influence my review.***
I will also share a 100 Thoughts While Reading We Are All That’s Left (+) post where, as usual, I will be sharing my thoughts while reading this book. To know more about 100TWR and if you want to do the same and be added to the list, click here.
Trigger/Content warning: death, discrimination against Muslims, bombings, war, fascism, genocide, terrorism, sexual assault, PTSD
We Are All That’s Left is a powerful, hopeful, truthful, inspiring, no holds barred book about war, love, family, forgiveness, recovery, trauma, acceptance, religion, terrorism, survival and emerging from the darkest depths of your life.
I picked this up in the hopes of being introduced to another culture, I had no idea I would be introduced not just to another culture but to a remarkable yet horrific event in history, different beliefs, inspiring and brave people, and more.
If you want a painful book:
If you want an inspiring book:
If you want an honest book:
If you want a lesson-filled book:
This book introduced me to the culture of Bosnia, its people, and its horrific past – which I was really not that familiar with before. This is both set in Bosnia and America with altering point of views of Zara, which is set in the present and Nadja, her mom, which is set in the past when she was still young. I loved the altering of point of views along with the setting, it made me feel like this is a historical fiction and realistic fiction at the same time.
I loved all the characters in this book – especially the main characters Zara and Nadja and how real and flawed they are as well as their relationship with each other. I also liked the romance between Zara and Joseph, it wasn’t the highlight of the story but I liked the contribution it made to Zara’s life and the whole story. They also complement each other. All of the characters are survivors. Everyone is brave and inspiring in their own ways and a survivor of their own battles.
I also liked how questions were asked by the characters that were about religion, life, God and everything in between including:
Why would God want someone to die?
Is everything’s in God’s hands?
Were the bad things that happened to us really God’s will?
Why do some people live a life of little tragedy and others great suffering?
For me, this is one of the books that should be studied in school. The story everyone must hear. A story based on real events. Where questions in the characters’ mind can also be answered or discussed by the students. Or where they can raise questions about the book themselves. This could open a floor for a great discussion.
Aside from war, terrorism and survival, a huge part of this book is about the maternal relationship of Zara and Nadja. I loved their journey of knowing, accepting and forgiving each other. I loved how flawed they are as individuals and as a daughter and a mother. I loved how honest they are.
Everything was so heartfelt. Literally every emotion the characters felt, I also felt. And this is the kind of book that will make you wish and wish and wish “I hope this world is a better place.” I hope this world would be a better place.
Overall, this book is a blessing for me. This is nothing like what I’ve read before. It’s an eye-opener. As my first read from Carrie Arcos, I am so impressed. Though I would highly recommend this book, I also want readers with PTSD and Muslims to be careful in picking this up. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t pick this up if you have PTSD or if you are a Muslim, but if you are avoiding books with triggers, then avoid this one, but if you think you are ready for it, then I’d suggest for you to do so. It will be worth it.
Carrie Arcos is a National Book Award Finalist for Young People’s Literature for OUT OF REACH; her fourth novel WE ARE ALL THAT’S LEFT will be available May 2018. She lives in Los Angeles with her family.
Find him on:
May 9 – Ela Everyday – Review + Instagram Picture
May 10 – Reading Writing and Me – Review
May 11 – Comfort Books – Review + Instagram Picture
May 14 – Forever 17 Books – Review
May 15 – Bookworm Banter – Review + Instagram Picture
May 16 – Afire Pages – Review
May 17 – The Book Return – Review
May 18 – The Germ Magazine – Review
Have you read We Are All That’s Left or any book that is set in Bosnia before? What’s your favorite novel that tells a story of a war or its survivors? Is We Are All That’s Left already in your tbr? Share your thoughts below!