By Adam Bagdasarian
Laurel-Leaf Books, 2002. 272 pgs. Young Adult
Forgotten Fire tells the story of one boy's experience during the Armenian genocide. Vahan Kenderian has a nice home and good family. But in 1915, the Turks decide to wipe out the Armenians, and Vahan's family is included. His father is taken away, two of his brothers killed, and the remaining members of his family led on a death march. Vahan and his only remaining brother escape, but they don't know where to go, as Armenians across the country are being exterminated as quickly as the Turks can find them. Vahan ends up on his own, desperately trying to survive.
This book is intense and powerful. It is valuable in providing information about the Armenian genocide, but it's also a wonderful story about the human spirit and Vahan's determination to survive. Based on the story of the author's great-uncle, it bluntly recounts the atrocities Armenians faced, but at the same time is a beautifully written and memorable story. The intensity and the themes (including violence, rape and death) may make it hard for some readers to stomach, but those who make it through will be rewarded.