Tuesday, January 16, 2018

A Review of 'Like Water on Stone' by Dana Walrath

Please note: this is a book I read in 2017.  Due to starting a new job, I kept up in reading but fell behind in blogging.  Reviews for 2018 reads will begin after the remaining 2017 reviews are posted.  Thank you for your patience!

"Blending magical realism and lyrical free verse, this is an intense survival story of three siblings caught up in the horrific events of the Armenian genocide of 1915.

It is 1914, and the Ottoman Empire is crumbling into violence.

Beyond Anatolia, in the Armenian Highlands, Shahen Donabedian dreams of going to New York.  Sosi, his twin sister, never wants to leave her home, especially now that she is in love.  At first, only Papa, who counts Turks and Kurds among his closest friends, stands in Shahen's way.  But when the Ottoman pashas set their plans to eliminate all Armenians in motion, neither twin has a choice.

After a horrifying attack leaves them orphaned, Shahen and Sosi flee into the mountains, carrying their little sister, Mariam.  Shahen keeps his parents' fate a secret from his sisters.  But the children are not alone.  An eagle named Ardziv watches over them as they run at night and hide each day, making their way across mountain ridges and rivers red with blood."

This was a book I had to read for my Middle Eastern book club but didn't finish until many months later.  I like this book because it's poetry and therefore short.  I thought this was an interesting way to begin to understand the Armenian genocide that occurred.  I have found through reads like this that I like poetry that is ultimately telling a story (fictional or nonfictional, it doesn't matter).  So I don't regret reading this book at all.

The trouble with reading poetry as narratives, however, at least in my experience, is that it can be hard for me to engage with the characters and therefore take the story to heart.  So after reading this book, I'm interested in reading more about the Armenian genocide, but I don't have a better understanding of this period of time after reading this book.  Poetry has a lot to do with communicating emotion and I think in order to understand one's emotions, you need some context and I don't really get that from this book.  Definitely not after the first read.  So that's rather disappointing.  I'd be interested in seeing if this book means more to me after a bit of an education on my part about this part of the world and about this part of history.

I give 'Like Water on Stone':
Thanks for Reading!


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