Forgotten Fire by Adam Bagdasarian
It is 1915 in Turkey. Turkey has entered World War I on the side of Germany. And the new Turkish leaders have turned a hard eye on the Armenian Christians living in Turkey.
Armenian families like Vahan Kendarians. Yesterday the Turks were their neighbors and their friends. Today theyve come with guns. Turkish soldiers have shot up their kitchen and dragged them outside. Theyve questioned Vahans mother: Are you hiding anyone? Neighbors or friends? They want to know where Vahans uncle is. Finally, they seem to be satisfied. (Read from p. 26-28, changing to third person and identifying the names as you go.)
[Then Vahan] heard some kind of commotion behind [him],
and when [he] turned, [he] saw two soldiers leading [his big
brothers] Diran and Tavel to the garden wall. Two other
soldiers were standing a few yards away, their rifles pointed
at my brothers.
What are you doing? my mother said to one of them, but he didnt answer. They didnt do anything! [Vahans] mother shouted. They dont know anything! She started to run to [his] brothers, and another soldier grabbed her arm. They didnt do anything! she cried. But the soldiers had already raised their rifles, had already aimed.
Tavel had slipped halfway down the wall when the shots exploded, blowing his body back against the wall. And then he and Diran were on their sides, and the white wall was red and blood leaked from Dirans head, from Tavels chest and head, and puddle beneath them. [Vahans sister] Sisak started toward the bodies, [his sister] Armenouhi dropped to her knees and [his] mother screamed and screamed.
The soldier who had questioned [Vahans] mother drew his pistol, walked to the bodies, pressed the mouth of the gun against each skull, fired, put the gun in his holster, and walked away.
It was only going to get worse.
Be steel, Vahans father always told him when Vahan was having a hard time. Steel is made strong by fire. In the days to come, Vahan must be steel. Everyone he loves will be torn from him. He will live as a hunted creature, desperate to escape Turkey, to escape the fire that consumes his country.
Vahans story may be fiction, but the tale of the Armenian holocaust is absolutely true. Read Forgotten Fire and find out for yourself.
by Kirsten Edwards of King County Library System