Stories for my Sons
Independently Published (2021)
Reviewed by Cynthia Hammell for Reader Views (06/2021)
“Stories for my Sons” by Marko Vukosavovic is a history of his Montenegrin family from the 15th-century beginnings of their village Sotonici to his own autobiography. He illustrates how the region’s history was shaped by war throughout the years. Some of the more memorable stories Vukosavovic shares are those which he and his father Rasko experienced.
During World War II, Rasko bravely fought with the resistance against the Fascists, narrowly escaping Mussolini’s forces multiple times. In one example he hid in a haystack while a farmer’s wife tried to persuade enemy officers that he was not there. After the war, Rasko was educated in the US, but still returned to his homeland.
Marko, born in 1974, had a largely peaceful childhood, though his teenage years were a tumultuous time. Belgrade was a dangerous place. Ethnic and religious tensions were extremely high in the former Yugoslavia leading to wars, as happened in Sarajevo. After high school, in 1993, Marko was recruited into the army. An illustration of their army’s poverty recalls one night near the end of his service, when there was only one can of food for six of them and were debating giving it to a dying dog.
When he graduated from the University of Belgrade in 2000, he joined his siblings in the US, where he now lives in New Jersey. His three sons are the sons in the title. Marko realizes the world he grew up in is gone, which I am sure others can relate to.
Vukosavovic states, “These stories follow the style of the book of Genesis and tales from the medieval Balkans a style I loved as a young boy. They were written in the style of short stories focusing on one event or one feeling and characterized by only limited descriptions of the external environment devoid of modern interpretations, justifications or glorification of the characters (p.5).” While the book is rich in history, I personally found the way the incidents in were presented actually distracted from the flow of the stories. I think the book would benefit from a map and maybe some old photographs or pictures to enhance the stories. The author did list the family members in the back of the book in an appendix, which may have worked better for the reader in the front of the book.
The author gives readers a glimpse into a world that has been dramatically changed. This book will appeal to those interested in autobiographies and family histories. It is a wonderful legacy to leave his children and a historical addition to books about the Balkan region.