Dana Walrath’s Young Adult novel Like Water on Stone blends haunting magical realism and free verse poetry to create a heartbreaking story that will haunt readers long after they have read the last page.
The story begins in 1914 when the Ottoman Empire is beginning to crumble and readers are introduced to three siblings: Shahen, Sosi, and Miriam. The former has dreams of moving to New York, however his twin sister wants to stay put since she has fallen in love. After all the Armenians are ordered to leave and a terrible attack leaves them orphaned, the three siblings are forced to flee into the mountains where they spend their days hiding and their nights on the run. Their only comfort is an eagle they name Ardiz, who watches over their perilous journey and gives them hope as they attempt to find freedom.
The novel uses heartbreaking poetry to create a Young Adult novel that defies the usual expectations of the genre. Instead of revolving around a young girl’s love life, Walrath allows readers to experience the pain of the Armenian genocide and dive headfirst into a web of familial love and the loss of innocence. Although Walrath does not skip over the gory details, she does leave a message of hope, mainly in the three siblings’ determination and will to survive, despite all of the horrors they have witnessed.
Like Water On A Stone deals with a horrible and little-known piece of history, but the story and its characters have a lot of heart, which helps them to overcome such an awful tragedy.