Jan 8, 2014

Book review: Summer is My Favorite Season

Ilir Berisha might say he was one of the lucky ones.

He got out of Kosova alive while living there during the war, and got to tell his story.

Berisha’s book “Summer Is My Favorite Season: A Memoir of Childhood and War in Kosovo ” paints a true story of a young boy who witnesses some of the worst the world has to offer. His parents are frustrated and frightened. They don’t know where they are going to get their next meal or when the electricity will return or if they will ever get running water again. His father has to work the black market to make money. And a beloved uncle is killed by a Serbian group.

When three masked men storm their apartment on a night where NATO bombs are falling around them, Berisha doesn’t know if he and his family will make it out alive. The men could kill them or perhaps a bomb will miss its target.

It wouldn’t be the first time Berisha wished for a quick death. And he was just 14 years old.

Berisha’s memoir is gripping. He starts the story from when he was very young, describing small but important moments that led to the end of the Kosova War. Kosovar are ethnic Albanians living in the Kosova region of the former Yugoslavia. The people were treated like second-class citizens or worse while Milosevic was in power.

The Kosovar children couldn’t go to school. Kosovar lost their long time jobs that supported their family. Independent news organizations were shut down. Kosovar couldn’t even get a good dentist – just an intern and no Novocain.

The frustrations got to everyone with Berisha’s parents either screaming or slapping him when it got too difficult. Berisha would sneak out of his apartment simply to stand in the front of his building for fresh air. It didn’t matter that snipers could be waiting on rooftops.

Berisha puts a face on the atrocities of the Kosova War. Thousands died under Milosevic’s reign between Bosnia, Croatia and Kosova. He takes a broader subject and brings it down the basic level – telling the story of his family though his eyes.

The story never gets weepy. Berisha takes a stronger approach with quick chapters. He uses small snippets to tell the story in an effective way. This story is well worth the read. 

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