Like a Haystack: Life from My Perspective outlines the history—the events and the forces—that drove Margaret Grgurić Smolik's family to be uprooted from their ancestral community, Voćin, in north-central Croatia during World War II. It gives the family’s background, describes daily life, and depicts the family’s experiences in Austria after the war. The second part of the book recounts the family’s emigration to the United States and the journey to Iowa.
In Like A Haystack, the author contrasts life in Europe and in the United States in the twentieth century. She highlights the endurance needed to survive war, cruelty, and suffering. She explains the tensions from adjusting to new cultures and values. Finally, she portrays people who do whatever it takes to achieve the American dream. As Lynn Haakenson, an English teacher, commented, “This account is a fascinating memoir of the author’s life in Croatia in WWII and her family’s adjustment to life in America.”