In a small village in Armenia in 1914, people are just living their lives in the Ottoman Empire. There are Turks, Kurds, and Armenian Christians all living together, for the most part in harmony. But the world events are going to come crashing into their lives very soon.
Shahen and his twin sister Sosi couldn’t be more different. She’s tall and strong and loves living in her village, dreaming already of marrying one of the local boys. Shahen, at thirteen, is still waiting to have a growth spirt and catch up with his two older brothers and he wants to leave this place as soon as possible. He has an uncle in America who has invited him to come live there, but Shahen’s mother and father want him to stay with them. Shahen wants nothing more than to fly away and start a life away from all the turmoil he sees coming. The only one who doesn’t see anything coming seems to be their father, who believes that all their neighbors and their village will not fall prey to the horrors that are happening around them. Even as things begin to spiral out of control, and other families leave, Shahen and Sosi’s father believes in the inherent goodness of others and thinks they will be safe. Unfortunately, his belief is misplaced.
Like Water on Stone by Dana Walrath is a look at the Armenian genocide that occurred in 1915 and lasted through 1917 under the Turks. Around three-quarters of the Armenia population were killed – about 1.5 million people and their lands lost. Families of young and old were transported to deserts and left to die, others taken to rivers and shot. As World War I raged on, most of the world was in the dark about this horror and for decades afterwards, it was officially denied by the Turkish government.
Recommended for 8th grade and up.