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Like Water on Stone

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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, e 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 their 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.


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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, e 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 their 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.

30 review for Like Water on Stone

  1. 4 out of 5

    Rashika (is tired)

    This beautiful book isn’t as fun to read. It treats your heart like a stone and tosses it into a lake where it skips and skips and skips. It’s not easy to read you might have figured that one out but it’s worth every moment of pain it will put you through You see it’s not a regular YA novel. it is one that tells a story of immense loss yet it also tells a story of familial love. The author doesn’t cut back on the gory details believe me I’d know. But at the same time, she is honest which is why this book is so h This beautiful book isn’t as fun to read. It treats your heart like a stone and tosses it into a lake where it skips and skips and skips. It’s not easy to read you might have figured that one out but it’s worth every moment of pain it will put you through You see it’s not a regular YA novel. it is one that tells a story of immense loss yet it also tells a story of familial love. The author doesn’t cut back on the gory details believe me I’d know. But at the same time, she is honest which is why this book is so heartbreaking With its fierce characters who continue to march on You cannot help but fall in love with not just with their innocent determination You cheer for them because they need to be cheered Most of all though, you hope, you hope everything will be all right. If you are a lover of truth and a lover of heartbreakingly real stories I’d say give this one a shot and let your heart skip skip skip over a lake of your own tears

  2. 4 out of 5

    Alyssa

    ***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog*** Like Water on Stone by Dana Walrath Publisher: Delacorte Press Publication Date: November 11, 2014 Rating: 5 stars Source: ARC sent by the publisher Summary (from Goodreads): Newbery Medalist Karen Hesse calls this story for readers of The Book Thief and Between Shades of Gray "a fine and haunting work." 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 gen ***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog*** Like Water on Stone by Dana Walrath Publisher: Delacorte Press Publication Date: November 11, 2014 Rating: 5 stars Source: ARC sent by the publisher Summary (from Goodreads): Newbery Medalist Karen Hesse calls this story for readers of The Book Thief and Between Shades of Gray "a fine and haunting work." 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 their 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. What I Liked: This book. Oh, my heart. I knew this one would be a powerful read, but experiencing the novel, the story... I so wanted to cry while reading this book. Historical fiction meets magical realism - this book was amazing. This book is written in verse, and follows four different perspectives. No, don't get upset, it never FEELS like too many. Usually, I get irritated with more than two. But with this story written in verse, and the nature of the fiction, four perspectives totally worked. This isn't your typical fiction novel, with an epic plot, someone saving the world, a prominent and sweeping romance. Don't get me wrong though, this book was all kinds of epic and sweeping. Shahen, Sosi, and Mariam are three Armenian siblings living in 1914, during the fall of the Ottoman Empire. The animosity between the Armenians and the Kurds is palpable. Anahid, their older sister, married a Kurd (which is frowned upon). When soldiers start to pillage and burn villages, the siblings' parents send the three siblings into the mountains. Sosi and Shahen are twins, in their teens, but Mariam is five. This is their story, of how they fled their village, left behind their parents, and began to survive and find their way out of the crumbling world. I LOVE the setting of this novel, the history, the political conflict, the portrayal of the war, the effects of the deteriorating empire... Walrath really did her research, to make this book come alive. I love historical fiction, and this novel is no exception. It feels almost like non-fiction, like an actual account of children's life during the Armenian genocide. The nature of this story actually made me want to know more about the Armenian genocide. I know a good deal about the two World Wars and many other events that occurred in the 1900s, but the Armenian genocide isn't well-thought in grade school, and I didn't know much about it. I love how well Walrath writes about this tragic time in history, how she incorporates small details that make such a difference. But I also love how this book made me think, made me wonder, made me curious, made me sad. Oh, how this story was heartbreaking. It's one of those books where you're sure that everyone is going to end up dead. That is not the case (no spoilers, but that's not the case), but I could see how Walrath could have made that happen. Walrath includes content such as prejudice (between the races), gender roles, rape, pillaging, death, death, death. What happened during this time is so incredibly tragic and heartbreaking. My heart aches for the mother of the three siblings especially. I love how well-written this book is. It's completely in verse, and it is beautiful. I was skeptical about how I would respond to the novel being written in verse, but I loved it. It totally works for this story, because it makes it so much more powerful. This story would not have read the same way, if it had been written like freestyle fiction. Each of the siblings are so different. Shahen wants to go to America. He is small for a boy, almost feminine. Sosi wants to stay in the village and marry Vahan, a clock-maker's son (someone she can never marry because of other factors). Mariam is five and loves that her brother (Shahen) is teaching her to write. We get each of their perspectives, in the first person. It's interesting to see the evolution of Mariam's perspective - a child. The fourth perspective will remain unknown... mwahaha. I love this book so much. I would totally reread it, and I wish that everyone would give this book a chance. Don't like historical fiction? Okay. But this is like, non-fiction historical fiction. It's real, it's powerful, and it sheds light on a very real and very tragic historical event. Excuse me while I go cry! What I Did Not Like: I can't think of anything! I always say, no book is perfect, and there is always something that a reader does not like about a book... but I can't think of whatever that is at the moment. Would I Recommend It: YES! Historical fiction fan or not, read it! It's worth the read, if not for the historical fiction aspect, for the beautifully written verse! Rating: 5 stars. Well deserved (you know I'm stingy with the 5-star ratings)! This is definitely one of those books that will stick with me for a long time.

  3. 5 out of 5

    kari

    This is YA, but I would say it's more of an adult theme with children as the protagonists. It is told in free verse. If that bothers you, then you won't like this, but I think it worked extremely well for the story being told. Although this has been in the news recently, I have to admit this is a story I had never heard of and knew nothing about. It's tragic and sad.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sylvie {on semi-hiatus}

    A fantastic book about how began the Armenian genocide, what happened during and after.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    Excellent, inspiring, historical verse novel of the Ottoman Empire genocide against Armenians. A special book for the special reader who will be shocked and learn something about a period of history which is not readily reflected in YA lit.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Angie

    The Donabedian family are Armenian Christians living in Palu in the Ottoman Empire. They have a good life in Palu, working their mill and enjoying rooftop picnics with friends and music. The story follows the lives of the three youngest children, twins Shahen and Sosi and baby Mariam. Shahen dreams of moving to America with his uncle. Sosi is content with life in Palu and wants to marry Vahan, a young Armenian clockmaker. Curious young Mariam is learning to write with the help of her doting olde The Donabedian family are Armenian Christians living in Palu in the Ottoman Empire. They have a good life in Palu, working their mill and enjoying rooftop picnics with friends and music. The story follows the lives of the three youngest children, twins Shahen and Sosi and baby Mariam. Shahen dreams of moving to America with his uncle. Sosi is content with life in Palu and wants to marry Vahan, a young Armenian clockmaker. Curious young Mariam is learning to write with the help of her doting older brother. It is 1915 and war is coming to the region. There has always been tension between the Armenians, the Kurds and the Turks, but it heightens as the Ottoman Empire starts to crumble. Papa believes his Kurdish and Turkish friends will protect him and that violence will never come to their town. He is proved wrong when soldiers take his two oldest sons away. Then, one night, violence erupts in Palu. Mama and Papa choose to send their three youngest children into the mountains to safety. Shahen, Sosi and Mariam run by night across the mountains and sleep during the day. They survive on what little food their mother sent with them. Shahen tries to protect his sisters from the truth of what has happened in Palu, but the violent evidence is all around them. They must first make it across the border to Aleppo before they can travel to America to live with their uncle. Along the way they are shadowed by Ardziv, an eagle whose feather they are carrying. He looks after the children and protects them along their journey. This is a heart-breaking story told in lovely free verse. The term genocide was coined to refer to the Armenian holocaust. I was not that familiar with this history, but the author's note lets the reader know that approximately three-quarters of the Armenian people, 1.5 million, died during the genocide. Shahen, Sosi and Mariam were among the lucky few who survived. Walrath does not pull any punches with the horror of this story. There is hatred and death and evil, but there is also hope. Hope that a part of a family's story will survive even if it is just through a cooking pot and an eagle’s feather. The sparse language of the free verse allows the reader to observe the horror from above through the eyes of Ardziv, and to experience the hardship and humanity that Shahen, Sosi and Mariam encounter. It is a brutally honest, beautifully told story of a horrible period in history when a people were almost wiped out. It is important that we remember the horrible events of the Jewish Holocaust during WWII. However, it is equally important that stories such as Like Water on Stone, The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney and Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys are also told so that these other atrocities become part of our human consciousness. If we are not aware of our history, we are just going to keep repeating it over and over throughout the world.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Courtney

    1914, Ottoman Empire: The Donabedian family members have a good life. They mill grain, grow grapes and spend warm summer evenings playing music with friends and neighbors on the rooftop. Unbeknownst to the younger family members, unrest is brewing and their lives are about to change forever. The three youngest siblings are the stars of this story. There's Shahen, who dreams of moving to America, Sosi, Shahen's twin sister, who has recently fallen in love with a local boy, and Mariam, the five-ye 1914, Ottoman Empire: The Donabedian family members have a good life. They mill grain, grow grapes and spend warm summer evenings playing music with friends and neighbors on the rooftop. Unbeknownst to the younger family members, unrest is brewing and their lives are about to change forever. The three youngest siblings are the stars of this story. There's Shahen, who dreams of moving to America, Sosi, Shahen's twin sister, who has recently fallen in love with a local boy, and Mariam, the five-year-old baby of the family. As political discontent grows, neighbors advise the family to leave, but their father firmly believes that their Turkish and Kurdish friends will help protect them from the soldiers. Unfortunately, things begin getting bad very quickly. The eldest sons are arrested and later massacred along with other men of fighting age from the village. One night, word comes that violence is on its way. The parents make the brave and devastating decision to send their remaining children off into the night. The three siblings then begin an epic journey over the mountains with little more than the clothes on their backs. All along, an eagle keeps watch over the family and helps to keep the children safe as they hide from soldiers and traverse the unforgiving mountainous landscape. This novel-in-verse is one of the more heart-wrenching tales I've read in recent memory. It's also the first time I've read any fiction about the Armenian Genocide of 1915. This family's story is heartbreaking, but even worse is the knowledge that these children were the lucky ones. They manage to escape the worst of the violence and are spared from seeing what happens to their parents (though we do, thanks to our friend, the eagle). Since this novel is written in verse, it moves very quickly. The language is beautiful, even if the subject matter is not. The narrative cycles through each of the siblings in addition to the eagle. Readers will breathlessly turn the pages to see what happens to these kids. The inclusion of the eagle adds a touch of magic realism, as well as an effective quasi-omniscient narrator. The end of the book includes an author's note, a glossary and a list of resources for further exploration of this horrific historical event.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Robin Herrera

    WHOA A perfect novel to pair with Skila Brown's CAMINAR, though LIKE WATER ON STONE might veer toward older readers. (See also: PARCHED by Melanie Crowder, especially with its animal narrator.) Walrath starts her novel off by introducing us to her large cast. Of course, if you know anything about the subject matter, you'll realize the cast is going to narrow down pretty quickly. The novel focuses on four main characters: Sosi, Shahen, and Mariam, of the large Donabedian family, and Ardziv, an eagl WHOA A perfect novel to pair with Skila Brown's CAMINAR, though LIKE WATER ON STONE might veer toward older readers. (See also: PARCHED by Melanie Crowder, especially with its animal narrator.) Walrath starts her novel off by introducing us to her large cast. Of course, if you know anything about the subject matter, you'll realize the cast is going to narrow down pretty quickly. The novel focuses on four main characters: Sosi, Shahen, and Mariam, of the large Donabedian family, and Ardziv, an eagle. Not only were their voices, their characters, unique, but their motivations were crystal clear (and sometimes in conflict). It was heartbreaking to read about Sosi and Shahen, whose beliefs differed so much despite the fact that they were twins. Sosi cannot let go of her memories of home, and Shahen wants only to forget everything he's seen. It brings the two into conflict at times, and really fuels the story. If you're a fan of poetry, you're definitely going to find it here. Walrath's use of language is simply incredible. And the food! Mouth-watering descriptions of apricots and rice-stuffed grape leaves made me wish I could eat. (Sick currently, heh heh.) A beautiful, touching story overall.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Tessa

    Well. Well. I just don't know. It was interesting, I guess, when I could figure out was happening. The Armenian Genocide is something I'd like to learn more about, preferably from a source that can write clearly. Parts of it were beautiful but I spent the whole time trying to dig through the unnecessarily flowery (and repetitive, oh my goodness so repetitive) language. And skipping four years ahead at the end without telling us what was happening? That did not win brownie points. I'm not sure if Well. Well. I just don't know. It was interesting, I guess, when I could figure out was happening. The Armenian Genocide is something I'd like to learn more about, preferably from a source that can write clearly. Parts of it were beautiful but I spent the whole time trying to dig through the unnecessarily flowery (and repetitive, oh my goodness so repetitive) language. And skipping four years ahead at the end without telling us what was happening? That did not win brownie points. I'm not sure if I was supposed to feel bad about Sosi's little romance? (I felt annoyed.) Ah, I feel awful. I'm trivializing a book about a genocide, for pete's sake, but to be honest? Writing it in verse felt trivializing to me. It didn't really feel like a real book about a real genocide, because it was way too hung up on giving POVs to eagles, and describing what words looked like written out, and how Sosi felt when whatever-his-name looked at her. I didn't really understand the real depths of the tragedy until I read the author's note (this was the best part). I guess novels-in-verse and I just don't mix.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Wendy

    I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked this book. It is written in free verse, but I thought it greatly added to the emotion of the situation - the Armenian Genocide. The repetition of some of the lines created a sense of urgency and heightened awareness of the hopelessness of the children and their escape. I even thought the element of magical realism would bother me, but I rather enjoyed the perspective of the eagle as it looked over the 3 children. The eagle's perspective allowed the I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked this book. It is written in free verse, but I thought it greatly added to the emotion of the situation - the Armenian Genocide. The repetition of some of the lines created a sense of urgency and heightened awareness of the hopelessness of the children and their escape. I even thought the element of magical realism would bother me, but I rather enjoyed the perspective of the eagle as it looked over the 3 children. The eagle's perspective allowed the reader to see more of what was going on. A highly recommended novel of a very emotional topic. 4 solid stars!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Mary Beth

    This was really a great read. The subject-the Ottoman Empire's genocide of the Armenians-was not one I was very familiar with, but it was powerful. The story is written in verse from the perspective of several different characters, each with his or her distinctive voice. The writing was beautiful. There was an element of fantasy in the character of an eagle. The author explains this choice in the afterword and I see her point. It balances things out a bit. This is a young adult historical fictio This was really a great read. The subject-the Ottoman Empire's genocide of the Armenians-was not one I was very familiar with, but it was powerful. The story is written in verse from the perspective of several different characters, each with his or her distinctive voice. The writing was beautiful. There was an element of fantasy in the character of an eagle. The author explains this choice in the afterword and I see her point. It balances things out a bit. This is a young adult historical fiction so maybe not for everyone, but I loved it.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Mija

    4.5 because I'm still not a huge fan of the verse format, but the story pulled me in and left me heartbroken all the same.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    The story itself was absolutely beautiful, but there was something about the writing style that didn't quite convince me.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Donovan

    While some reviews suggest this book is more geared toward adult readers, I disagree. I have read many novels that represent genocide, I think this one takes care of teen readers with her beautiful verse and eagle character to protect the young characters. That said, I do think middle and high school readers do need to be patient. This is not a fast moving, plot driven book. There are many characters narrating the story, and, for me, this made the first 135 pages quite laborous. I had to constan While some reviews suggest this book is more geared toward adult readers, I disagree. I have read many novels that represent genocide, I think this one takes care of teen readers with her beautiful verse and eagle character to protect the young characters. That said, I do think middle and high school readers do need to be patient. This is not a fast moving, plot driven book. There are many characters narrating the story, and, for me, this made the first 135 pages quite laborous. I had to constantly refer back to the "cast of characters," which I think may not have been necessary if the author chose the eagle as the narrator or perhaps one character and the eagle. In other novels that tell a story of genocide, the author has to make decisions about how to represent the atrocities, and I think Walrath's use of the eagle to describe the violence from above was helpful in distancing the reader from the young Armenian siblings in the story. (The eagle reminded me of the narrator in The Book Thief sort of watching out and observing, but this eagle protects.) For this reason, I think teen readers can handle this, but they do have to be patient readers who appreciate verse. As I reflect on the narrative, I think the verse and multiple narrators worked to show how impossible it is to tell "the" story of the Armenian genocide. There are gaps and fissures in this narrative that the different voices try to piece together; still, the atrocities are unimaginable and no amount of words can capture the pain and suffering. The poetry honors that, leaving the white spaces on the page to honor that which we cannot know.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne Dix

    Such a hard book. The history is so sad and scary and the storytelling can be very confusing. I had to concentrate a lot in the beginning to keep all the characters in play (the author has alternating narrators with five different points of view, one being that of an eagle). Once I sat still and got into the book, I was mesmerized by this period of history I knew so little about. The characters will definitely stay with me for a long time. Grade 8 and up. The killings and rape scenes are brutal a Such a hard book. The history is so sad and scary and the storytelling can be very confusing. I had to concentrate a lot in the beginning to keep all the characters in play (the author has alternating narrators with five different points of view, one being that of an eagle). Once I sat still and got into the book, I was mesmerized by this period of history I knew so little about. The characters will definitely stay with me for a long time. Grade 8 and up. The killings and rape scenes are brutal and shocking. Sensitive readers would have a very difficult time along the way. The free verse does not seem to aid this story and I wonder how the author came upon the idea to write in this technique. It did make the scary, violent parts move quicker but I also felt that I didn't understand the history well enough to somewhat skim over the details. This book is highly recommended but I wonder who I will recommend it to? Students who love history? Social justice advocates? Those of Armenian backgrounds? It will be a struggle to put this book into the right student's hands.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Don

    I think having a little knowledge of the Armenian Genocides helps when reading this novel written in verse. I will be honest to say that I don't do well with this type of writing, probably because I have not read enough of it. My rating is more a reflection of my ability to understand, learn, and enjoy than it is of the actual writing. The story is amazing and after a while I got into the rhythm of the verse. I had difficulty at first with keeping the characters straight and often had to check th I think having a little knowledge of the Armenian Genocides helps when reading this novel written in verse. I will be honest to say that I don't do well with this type of writing, probably because I have not read enough of it. My rating is more a reflection of my ability to understand, learn, and enjoy than it is of the actual writing. The story is amazing and after a while I got into the rhythm of the verse. I had difficulty at first with keeping the characters straight and often had to check the cast of characters provided. I had difficulty building the characters in my mind, probably just because I do not read verse well.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jeni

    I did not like this book when I first started it but I don't really enjoy books written in verse. The characters' names confused me and if I had not read the synopsis it would have taken me longer to figure out that one of them was an eagle. I thought that was silly at first but I think the eagle's role in the book and storyline was the best. As I read more I became interested in the story and did not mind reading to the end. I did not love it though. I don't think teens will like it either. 2 o I did not like this book when I first started it but I don't really enjoy books written in verse. The characters' names confused me and if I had not read the synopsis it would have taken me longer to figure out that one of them was an eagle. I thought that was silly at first but I think the eagle's role in the book and storyline was the best. As I read more I became interested in the story and did not mind reading to the end. I did not love it though. I don't think teens will like it either. 2 out of 5.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Abigail

    I guess this book was intended for a younger audience because of the plain and simple language. I did enjoy the plot just this particular free verse bothered me throughout the whole book. I just felt this book lacked more emotion and character development. I continued to read the book because it was based off a historical event even though in this case, it's fiction. I just didn't feel this book.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Edward Sullivan

    A harrowing story of two siblings seeking refuge during the Armenian genocide, but I don't care for the element of magical realism in which an eagle is used to observe some of the most horrific of the atrocities and serve as a symbol of hope. It's unnecessary and intrusive in an otherwise straightforward historical narrative.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jenna Ann

    The Armenian genocide is a story that needs to be told. This novel had it's ups and downs, I didn't like the free verse in this case, but the plot was tragic and well written. I will be looking for more novels like this one.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    I generally enjoy free verse poetry novels, but this was written in a more poetic style and not as a narrative. I didn't like including the story told by the eagle's point of view.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kinza Brue

    It was a fast read, and it did make me interested in learning more about the Armenian genocide, but I wasn't a huge fan of the writing style.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Chrissy

    Historical fiction written in verse about the Armenian genocide. Haunting.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Anne Michaud

    Will leave you speechless for days.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Britt

    I really wanted to enjoy this but I got about halfway through and kind of never picked it up again. I think the multiple viewpoints were more difficult to follow than they had to be.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Musiclib

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Like water on stone by Dana Walrath. Published by Delacorte Press, 2014. Walrath based her story on the life of her grandmother. Although her grandmother died before she was born, Walrath had known her grandmother and grandmother's siblings survived the Armenian genocide by escaping to Aleppo, Syria. Like water on stone begins as the Donabedian family continues their usual activities of the men working in the mill and the women minding the younger children, weaving carpets, and farming apricots a Like water on stone by Dana Walrath. Published by Delacorte Press, 2014. Walrath based her story on the life of her grandmother. Although her grandmother died before she was born, Walrath had known her grandmother and grandmother's siblings survived the Armenian genocide by escaping to Aleppo, Syria. Like water on stone begins as the Donabedian family continues their usual activities of the men working in the mill and the women minding the younger children, weaving carpets, and farming apricots and grapes. They live in Palu, Armenia amongst Turks, Kurds, and other Armenian Christians. The reader can sense early in the novel - which is written in free verse - that a very strong us versus them ideology is developing amongst the Muslim Turks. Watching the developing troop movements is an eagle who serves as something of a narrator and story connector. While Mr. Donabedian keeps insisting that their Kurdish in-laws (his eldest daughter married into a Kurdish family) and their Turkish neighbors will protect them from any harm by incoming troops, eventually he realizes protection is not coming. A plan is hatched to send the three youngest children - Sosi, Shahen, and Miriam - to Aleppo in hopes of joining family members in the US. Then their struggle across the mountains of western Armenia begin. Although I personally am not a big fan of novels in verse, Like water on stone created an exception. The structure of Walrath's writing creates many short verses and sentences. However, she is quite good at using very few words to accomplish the feat of pushing the plot forward and displaying the characters' emotions. The story is divided into four parts. Part 1 establishes how the Donabeian's lives were prior to the genocide. Part 2 discusses the onset of the genocide. Part 3 is the attempt at the escape of the children to Syria and part 4 is the aftermath. I would categorize this book as a "middle of the road" book in terms of how war is depicted. The psychological intensity in The road from home isn't felt here. There are times you can literally feel the fear of the characters, but it's not such a continuous onslaught of incredible fear. (One reason that there is a bit of levity is that the youngest character, Miriam, is quite young. The actions and thoughts of a five year old bring a bit of lightness to the drama.) Where Like water is more intense than Road from home is in the description of the treatment of the Armenians and the environment in which the children worked through the mountains to Aleppo. I would recommend not eating and reading the middle of the book at the same time. Here you will find descriptions of various body parts cut off and/or removed from characters, rape, burning homes with people trapped inside, intimidation by soldiers, and having to eat wild animals raw. The most disappointing part for me was that the story stops just after the genocide, in 1919. You don't hear if those who did survive made it to the US as they had hoped, if lost loves found each other, etc. I doubt the author intended it to be a series, but it would be nice if the reader could find out if the characters do accomplish all the dreams they describe in the book. For classroom use, I would suggest being careful if you have students (immigrant or not) who have survived acts of violence. (For example: any victim of rape or molestation would probably trigger on two particular scenes in the book.)

  27. 4 out of 5

    Alisha

    Like Water on Stone was a great idea, but the way it was written ruined what could have been a great book. It's about the Armenian Genocide which started a bit into World War I in 1915. The Armenian Genocide is often forgotten or overlooked, and most people don’t know about it, and I’m glad that Walrath wrote about it. Without a doubt, the book showed the horrors of war and what refugees face when they’re escaping. At times, the events seemed a bit cinematic and reminded me of something I’d see Like Water on Stone was a great idea, but the way it was written ruined what could have been a great book. It's about the Armenian Genocide which started a bit into World War I in 1915. The Armenian Genocide is often forgotten or overlooked, and most people don’t know about it, and I’m glad that Walrath wrote about it. Without a doubt, the book showed the horrors of war and what refugees face when they’re escaping. At times, the events seemed a bit cinematic and reminded me of something I’d see in a movie, especially the scene (view spoiler)[when Shahen gets up to help Sosi despite having been hit by a rock. (hide spoiler)] But despite that, I loved Shahen, Sosi, and Mariam’s relationship with each other and how they always helped one another. I appreciated Mama and Papa’s love for their children (view spoiler)[and how they sacrificed themselves to keep Shahen, Sosi and Mariam alive (hide spoiler)] . (view spoiler)[What happened to Misak and Kevorg was horrible and I’m glad that Anahid managed to get away from the slaughter. (hide spoiler)] I was definitely invested in Walrath’s characters and found myself hoping they’d survive and find happiness because they were too young to have so much responsibility and to face such terrible trials. Aside from that, the writing and the characters themselves brought the book from a rating of five out of five to a three. Walrath chose to write in verse. That itself wasn’t a problem and at times it may have been a good choice. Overall, however, I felt as if she never focused on the actual events but on describing things that weren’t very important. The events that actually mattered were written vaguely and left a lot of doubt: had it actually happened or was it imagined? Scenes such as when (view spoiler)[Shahen saw his parents after the massacre and they told him to take Sosi and Mariam and to run (hide spoiler)] only confused me because in a book with an eagle that seemed to talk, anything was possible. Although I loved the characters together, individually they were a bit obnoxious. Shahen got annoying after continuously blaming his father and calling him stupid. Although most of the events were caused by Papa’s refusal to leave Armenia and Shahen’s frustration is understandable. But (view spoiler)[Papa still died so he and his sisters could live (hide spoiler)] and I felt as if Shahen should’ve been more appreciative. Sosi didn’t seem to act like she was thirteen, and if I hadn’t read the character page, I would’ve thought she was around ten. The characters also had little to no development. To conclude, Like Water on Stone could’ve been a great book, but by no means was it terrible. It was average, but I’d definitely recommend it. Shahen, Sosi and Mariam’s journey, although fictional, mirrors the trials refugees still face today. Like Water on Stone may not be about the events happening in the world today, but the issues covered are still relevant.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Tibby (she/her)

    I couldn’t finish this one. It wasn’t because it wasn’t any good either. It was just too depressing. Plus the youngest girl that’s on the run is five and it was just a little too close to my own daughter’s age and I couldn’t help projecting. The book is actually a novel in verse and the author says in her note in the back that this choice was intended to place a barrier between the reader and the horror of the situations. This is exactly what Andrea Pinkney Davis said about her book The Red Penci I couldn’t finish this one. It wasn’t because it wasn’t any good either. It was just too depressing. Plus the youngest girl that’s on the run is five and it was just a little too close to my own daughter’s age and I couldn’t help projecting. The book is actually a novel in verse and the author says in her note in the back that this choice was intended to place a barrier between the reader and the horror of the situations. This is exactly what Andrea Pinkney Davis said about her book The Red Pencil. And I think it is very effective. Walrath also adds in an eagle as a narrator who witness some of the most horrific parts of the story of the genocide. This too puts a bit of a space between the reader and the horror. It also allows there to be a little more history and broader perspective that sees war coming before it arrives. Like Water on Stone is written beautifully and certainly the beginning 100 pages that focus on life before the genocide began are beautiful, featuring scenes of everyday life in the rural village. I skipped ahead and read a few of the poems much later in the book and it seems there is hope at the end of the book. I just couldn’t make it through the terrible stuff to get there. I highly recommend giving it a try and not letting my inabilty to finish it deter you if you are interested in the Armenian genocide or are looking for an excellent novel in verse. This is clearly for high school as there is talk of rape and murder. But it would also be a good history book (despite being fictionalized). This is yet another part of history, a shameful one, that is skipped over in history classes. We often focus so much on the genocide of WWII and of the Jews that history classes lose sight of the other genocides during this century. Even prominent figures today lose sight of other genocides. The pope called the Armenian genocide the first of the 20th century and it wasn’t. The massacre of the Herrero people by the Germans a good 10 years earlier was the first. If you liked this book or want something a little less hard to take, I suggest Ruta Sepetys Between Shades of Gray. It’s a totally different time period, but it has the same feel to it.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Pletcher

    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 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

  30. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Who knows what it takes for someone to survive unspeakable horrors or unrelenting hunger? In this novel in verse based on true events in 1915, twins Soshi and Shahen Donabedian and their little sister Mariam flee their home in Turkey for several weeks until they reach safety across the border. The book begins in 1914 with Shahen eager to leave their homeland for life in New York where a relative has settled. But his father loves their home and trusts that their neighbors will treat them well eve Who knows what it takes for someone to survive unspeakable horrors or unrelenting hunger? In this novel in verse based on true events in 1915, twins Soshi and Shahen Donabedian and their little sister Mariam flee their home in Turkey for several weeks until they reach safety across the border. The book begins in 1914 with Shahen eager to leave their homeland for life in New York where a relative has settled. But his father loves their home and trusts that their neighbors will treat them well even while there are unsettling signs that violence is approaching. When it is too late to save the family, the youngsters' parents sacrifice themselves so that their children have time to run. The author effectively describes the prejudices that existed against the Armenians at that time as well as the resulting genocide. While some readers may not like the inclusion of the eagle that flies overhead throughout their escape or how the eagle seems to help them in whatever way possible, but I loved that element of the story. After all, we never know from whom aid or compassion will come, as this story makes clear. The use of the eagle's quill as a writing utensil and its own losses make even more palpable the losses described in this moving book. Sadly, this is a part of history about which I know very little. Like many readers, I am delighted to use it as a starting place for my further exploration of this little-discussed part of history. It serves to pull away the veil of silence about an inexpressibly horrifying part of humans' treatment of other humans just as Between Shades of Gray did earlier. This is a much-needed, important book well worth reading. Just be prepared to put it down since it is emotionally wrenching and riveting. Even while Soshi dreams of an engagement and wedding plans, there is little chance that her intended will have survived the slaughter. Details such as Soshi's refusal to leave the pot with which her mother cooked behind or how their mother sewed coins and food inside clothing add to the book's impact and authenticity.

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