Like Water on Stone
by Walrath, Dana

Shahen, a youth who dreams of moving to New York, his twin Sosi, who never wants to leave her home, and their little sister, Miriam, flee the horrifying Armenian genocide of 1915 and struggle for survival in the aftermath of their parents' deaths. Simultaneous eBook.

Dana Walrath, writer, poet, artist, Fulbright Scholar, and second generation Armenian, is committed to the movement for reconciliation between Turkey and Armenia. She believes an honest reckoning of history, apology and forgiveness is essential for healing and will help bring about peace in the future. She lives in Vermont.

Hoping to stay ahead of rampaging Turks, twins Shahen and Sosi flee their home in Ottoman-ruled western Armenia in 1915 with little sister Mariam in tow. Shahen wonders bitterly how Papa could have insisted on clinging to their home so long, trusting that no harm could come to Armenian Christians. Now their family is being massacred, and the siblings have only a slim chance of reaching Aleppo, for a better chance of safety. Walrath's tale of the Armenian genocide strikes a unique, lyrical tone, written in readers'-theater-style verse. The three main characters have clearly identified passages, while a fourth character-the soaring, watchful eagle, Ardziv-assumes the role of narrator and offers a touch of magic realism. He is a guiding light and savior to the children along their escape. Readers will need to adjust to the style to follow the story, but they will be rewarded with a powerful tale balancing the graphic reality of genocide with a shining spirit of hope and bravery in young refugees coming to terms with their world. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

This verse novel uses alternating narrators to document three siblings' flight from the 1915 Armenian genocide. The Donabedian family's Christian faith makes them a target of the Ottoman Empire's genocide. When violence erupts, the parents barely manage to create a diversion that allows three of their children to escape to the mountains. With meager food supplies and only vague directions on how to reach safety, the children's courage is tested. But unexpected sources provide help, most notably Ardziv, an eagle who both occasionally provides scavenged food and narrates events from his aerial perspective. This device does help illuminate the broad scale of the government's brutality, but Ardziv also complicates the question of the author's intended audience. While the novel's graphic violence lends itself to more mature readers, they may view the eagle's narration and assistance with skepticism. The verse is often powerful, especially in its use of repetition, but it does not provide the author with much textual opportunity to fully explain the nature of the ethnic and religious conflict. From a design perspective, it's unfortunate that the information provided on the opening map reveals that the siblings survive and make it to New York, which may diminish the novel's tension for many readers. The emotional impact these events had on individuals will certainly resonate, but understanding the conflict at large may still require supplemental reading. (Historical fiction. 14-18) Copyright Kirkus 2014 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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