Review from Amazon: Forced to watch his father escorted out of their lives by Turkish police, his brothers shot to death in their backyard, his grandmother murdered by a rock-wielding guard, and his sister take poison rather than be raped by soldiers, 12-year-old Vahan Kendarian abruptly begins to learn what his father meant when he used to say, “This is how steel is made. Steel is made strong by fire.” Up until 1915, Vahan has lived a cosseted life as the son of a wealthy and respected Armenian man. But overnight his world is destroyed when the triumvirate of Turkish leaders, Enver Pasha, Talaat Bey, and Djemal Pasha, begins the systematic massacre of nearly three-quarters of the Armenian population of Turkey, 1.5 million men, women, and children. Soon Vahan is an orphan on the run, surviving by begging, pretending to be deaf and mute, dressing as a girl, hiding out in basements and outhouses, and even living for a time with the Horseshoer of Baskale, a Turkish governor known for nailing horseshoes to the feet of his Armenian victims. Time and again, the terrified and desperate boy grows close to someone–and loses him or her to an appalling, violent death. Through three years of unspeakable horror, Vahan is made stronger by this fire, and by perseverance, fate, or sheer luck, he survives long enough to escape to the safe haven of Constantinople.
My thoughts: I really enjoyed this book. It is an easy, fast read because it was prepared to be a youth book for teen readers.
It truly is a ‘forgotten’ time as the Armenian holocaust in rarely discussed and certainly has not gotten the attention of the Jewish holocaust. It was so fast and deadly calculated. The German Jews were subject to long spells of discrimination and hatred before the camps. This book tells of a wealthy family who had everything until one day they came for all of the adult male leaders. And then they came back for the young men. And then they came back for the women and the children. It was done so quickly; no wonder it is a Forgotten time.
The author’s uncle was the inspiration for this story. It is a relief that this is a fictionalized account because, while reading, you cannot believe that all of this happened to one person!