Cardboard City follows the lives of two young teens — members of a Romani family. Saida and Nikola experience harsh discrimination at school and crushing poverty in their informal settlement, spread out under a bridge in Belgrade. Their dreams of escape, and of leaving deplorable conditions behind, trigger a family crisis. In particular, Nikola is a gifted trumpeter and aspires to be a famous musician; but it proves challenging to surmount the enormous barriers between his present situation and the self-mastery and life of dignity he seeks.
Introducing young readers to the world of Eastern Europe’s Rom, Cardboard City is evocative of the virulent racism, injustice and inhumane conditions endured by this community to this very day.
Praise for Cardboard City
“Cardboard City is more than a book that allows readers to enter a world likely unknown to them, it’s also a resource to teach young readers about the consequences of objectifying marginalized people.”
— Starred Review, Quill & Quire Published: July, 2023
“A ‘deeply heartwarming’ YA novel . . . (that) offers a view into the lives and dreams of two Romani teens.”
— The British Columbia Review Published: July, 2023
“This slender novel by Jovanovic (The Blue Vase) highlights the displacement and oppression of Romani peoples as experienced by two teens living in an improvised Romani settlement of cardboard dwellings…an admirable if ambitious tale about two teens yearning for more and journeying toward a hopeful future.”
— Publishers Weekly Published: June 29, 2023
“The experiences of the characters [in Cardboard City] are stated simply and evocatively, without overtones of judgment or lamentation. Each character is allowed their own voice and story, the third-person perspective shifting effortlessly between individuals and driving home the dignity of each one … A clear-eyed and artful view into the lives and dreams of two Romani teens.”
— Kirkus Reviews (starred review) Published: June 15, 2023
About the Author:
Katarina Jovanovic was born in Belgrade, Serbia, where she worked as a journalist in radio broadcasting. She is the recipient of The Christie Harris Children’s Literature Award (The BC and Yukon Book Prizes) for The King Has Goat Ears (Tradewind Books), and the Chocolate Lily Award for The Blue Vase (Tradewind Books). Katarina teaches education at Vancouver Community College, and lives in Vancouver, BC with her husband, Bojan.