Author: Dana Walrath
Book takes place in the country: YES
Author is from the country: NO (but her immediate family is)
I have visited: NO
My 40th read for the year! I am going at a nice pace.
This was a quick read, even though it is over 300 pages, because it was written almost like a poem. The pages flew by. I knew very little about the genocide that took place in Armenia at the beginning of the 20th century, so this was a real eye opener.
This book takes place in 1914 when the Ottoman Empire is collapsing. A family - a mom, dad, and several children are debating whether to flee to America with family or to stay. The father wants to stay - he has Turkish and Kurd friends who he feels will protect his family.
In the end, two of his children are arrested, and the father begins to realize they are too late with their decision to leave. His twin children - a boy and a girl (Sosi and Shahen) and a younger daughter (Mariam) are given a few meager belongings and told to flee. The mother and father distract the soldiers long enough for those three to get away before the parents are brutely murdered.
The attack comes from the Turkish government wanting to eliminate all Armenians. And now, Sosi, Shahen, and Mariam are on their own. They cross only by night through the mountains, trying to get to Aleppo, and then on to America. Starving, and with so little posessions, things look dire for the young children. They are in a race against time to stay away from the soldiers (Shahen, a boy, is dressed as a girl so he is not recruited into the army) and out of the line of fire. They pass large amounts of dismembered bodies as they trek, hoping against everything that they make it out of the country.
This is a beautifully told story. You are entertwined with the three main characters as they risk everything to escape. It is told from the point of view of several of the characters in the book, so you get different takes on the terrible situation. From the parents down to 5 year old Miriam, whose whole world was turned upside down by something she doesn't understand. She isn't even told that her parents are dead until they are safe because the twins felt it would be too much for her as they were desparately running for their lives.
All told, there is an estimate between 600,000-1.5 million Armenians that lost their lives in the genocide. I encourage you to read this book to get just a small look at what it was like for Armenians in the early 1900s. And then go on to read more articles about the genocide HERE
"The voice of the people is louder thank the boom of a cannon"
Stars: 4 1/2