cover image Like Water on Stone

Like Water on Stone

Dana Walrath. Delacorte, $16.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-385-74397-6

Divided into four devastating sections spanning five years, Walrath’s debut vividly renders the atrocities of the Armenian genocide in the early 20th century, using multiple first-person narratives in delicate verse. After years of living peacefully as Christians with neighboring Muslims, Papa refuses to accept the worsening political realities his son, Shahen, recognizes until it’s too late: “Papa so thick,/ so certain,/ so simple./ He lost three sons/ in one day:/ my brothers/ to soldiers,/ and me/ to a scarf and dress.” Shahen, dressed as a girl, escapes into the mountains with his sisters Sosi and Mariam, guiding them through scenes of carnage as they leave behind their parents, family, and friends: “ ‘I’ve got you./ Hold on./ Keep them closed.’.... Up the bank/ past the bodies,/ heaps of them,/ bloated,/ cut open./ ‘Just hold on./ Keep them closed.’ ” Ardziv, a compassionate eagle watching over the family and following the children, adds a touch of magical realism that softens the devastating images. A shocking tale of a bleak moment in history, told with stunning beauty. Ages 14–up. Agent: Ammi-Joan Paquette, Erin Murphy Literary Agency. (Nov.)