When an evening broadcast of the civil war in Croatia interrupts what should be a quiet evening for Ellie, a seven-year old girl living in the UK, she decides to give up her most valuable possession to help others. She sends her greenish plush toy dog to Croatia, where the war threatens to take away children’s homes, youth, and innocence.
This is how Tamara Drobac, a Serbian author living in the UK, opens her first novel – Greensey’s Journey. Published in 2019, this children’s novel is set in Croatia and centers on a friendship between a five-year old Emilia and an unusually likable plush toy Greensey.
The toy enters Emilia’s life as a Red Cross donation sent at the time of the political turmoil and social crisis of the 1990s Croatia, and it quickly becomes her best friend. Her mom and granddad accept him as a family member, which is a similar treatment he had had in the home of his earlier owner, Ellie. In his UK home, Greensey had a different status than other toys and even had a plate served for him at dinner. He was Ellie’s best friend and one of her greatest valuables. Despite this strong relationship, she decides to part ways with him and send him on a mission to Croatia.
It is not until we embark on this journey with Greensey that we learn the real truth about him. He is so much more than a simple toy, but only the children of pure heart can know that.
Just like Ellie, Emilia is one of such children. Living with her mother Isabela and her granddad Vasiliye, she already experiences the uncertainties of war and only has one toy to keep her company. When her mother brings Greensey home, Emilia could not be happier. Not only does she make a new friend, but also discovers a miraculous truth about his mission.
As the novel progresses, we follow Emilia and Greensey through the historic military actions “The Storm” and “The Lightning”, which have changed the political and social climate in the Balkans forever. These events also change Emilia’s life, but with Greensey by her side, she keeps faith in good people and continues to believe in human values. Despite all the threats, worries, and political instabilities that are challenging people’s beliefs and perceptions, Emilia retains her kindness and purity of thought. Together with Greensey , she goes through the war feeling safe and thankful for what she has. That was the intention of Ellie, who knew exactly how Greensey’s company can make a difference for a child’s life.
Through the companionship of Greensey and Emilia, we learn about unconditional love, loyalty, and purity, which are so easy to lose at times of uncertainty. We are reminded of the comforts of a children’s world, where having a best friend and a family that loves you is enough to keep you happy. Even the adult readers accept the fantastic about the novel because, deep inside, we know that everything is possible when you’re a child and your imagination is limitless.
With this story, Tamara takes us to the world of children to tell a story of friendship, love, and kindness. Driving inspiration from her own experience of growing up in Croatia in the 1990s, she gives us a new perspective of the historical events that took place at the time. Greensey’s Journey is still a story about the realities of war, but Tamara helps make it different than anything else you can read in history books. She offers us a journey of rediscovery and reconciliation, reminding us that there are no borders or limits to human kindness and imagination – as long as we strive to use them as much as possible.
Tamara Drobac hosted a book promotion event at the Serbian Embassy in the UK in February 2020, which was attended by members of Serbian royalty. The book is available on Amazon here.
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