You Don’t Have to Live Here by Natasha Radojcic is the heartbreaking story of a young woman named, Sasha–part Muslim, part Gypsy Christian–who makes her way from Yugoslavia to Cuba to Greece and finally, to New York City where she finds her place in the world, at least for the time being.
It is a beautiful, quick read that will threaten to tear you in two for the sadness this young girl endures as she endures her mother’s illness and death, as well as the endless search for a lover or drug that will make her feel less pain:
I never tried to be exquisite. I never tried. I was just thirsty. The thirst is always there. Long before I stopped the drinking and the heroin, long before I even started it. The thirst attached itself to me, changed me. I became thirst, and the men knew. Even today, right this minute. I am thirsty.
Partly this thirst is a desire for love, for acceptance, but mostly, I think, it is about survival. If you keep feeling the thirst, you will know you are alive. As soon as something quenches it, you stop seeking and then you are done. I understand that. I get it. It’s not something that goes away.
Through her many weaknesses, then, Sasha is a character of great strength–she knows how to use her brain and whatever else she has available to her to escape, to survive. And in that she is admirable. Heroic, even.
This book is not an easy read, in that it is rather bleak, but I will say you will be glad you read it. I know I am.
For more information on Natasha Radojcic, you may want to read this: The Bottom of Madness