Cover image for Like water on stone
Like water on stone
Walrath, Dana, author.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Delacorte Press, [2014]

Physical Description:
353 pages : map ; 22 cm
Based on actual events, this novel in verse relates the tale of siblings Sosi, Shahen, and Mariam who survive the Armenian genocide of 1915 by escaping from Turkey alone over the mountains.
Reading Level:
HL 720 Lexile.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
Y FICTION Young Adult Fiction Young Adult

On Order



"Evocative and hopeful," says Newbery Honor-Winner Rita Williams-Garcia of this intense survival story set during the Armenian genocide of 1915. 
It is 1914, and the Ottoman Empire is crumbling into violence.
     Beyond Anatolia, in the Armenian Highlands, Shahen Donabedian dreams of going to New York. Sosi, his twin sister, never wants to leave her home, especially now that she is in love. At first, only Papa, who counts Turks and Kurds among his closest friends, stands in Shahen's way. But when the Ottoman pashas set in motion their plans to eliminate all Armenians, neither twin has a choice.
     After a horrifying attack leaves them orphaned, they flee into the mountains, carrying their little sister, Mariam. But the children are not alone. An eagle watches over them as they run at night and hide each day, making their way across mountain ridges and rivers red with blood.     

A YALSA Best Fiction Nomination
A Notable Books for a Global Society Award Winner    
A CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Book of the Year
A Bank Street College of Education Best Book of the Year with Outstanding Merit

"I have walked through the remnants of the Armenian civilization in Palu and Chunkush, I have stood on the banks of the Euphrates. And still I was unprepared for how deeply moved I would be by Dana Walrath's poignant, unflinching evocation of the Armenian Genocide. Her beautiful poetry and deft storytelling stayed with me long after I had finished this powerful novel in verse." -- Chris Bohjalian , author of The Sandcastle Girls and Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands

"A heartbreaking tale of familial love, blind trust, and the crushing of innocence. A fine and haunting work." -- Karen Hesse , Newbery Medal-winning author of Out of the Dust
"This eloquent verse novel brings one of history's great tragedies to life." -- Margarita Engle, Newbery Honor-winning author of The Surrender Tree

* "This beautiful, yet at times brutally vivid, historical verse novel will bring this horrifying, tragic period to life for astute, mature readers." -- School Library Journal , Starred

"A powerful tale balancing the graphic reality of genocide with a shining spirit of hope and bravery in young refugees coming to terms with their world."-- Booklist
"The emotional impact these events had on individuals will certainly resonate."-- Kirkus Reviews

Author Notes

Dana Walrath, writer, poet, artist, Fulbright Scholar, and second generation Armenian, is committed to the movement for reconciliation between Turkey and Armenia. She believes an honest reckoning of history, apology and forgiveness is essential for healing and will help bring about peace in the future. She lives in Vermont.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Hoping to stay ahead of rampaging Turks, twins Shahen and Sosi flee their home in Ottoman-ruled western Armenia in 1915 with little sister Mariam in tow. Shahen wonders bitterly how Papa could have insisted on clinging to their home so long, trusting that no harm could come to Armenian Christians. Now their family is being massacred, and the siblings have only a slim chance of reaching Aleppo, for a better chance of safety. Walrath's tale of the Armenian genocide strikes a unique, lyrical tone, written in readers'-theater-style verse. The three main characters have clearly identified passages, while a fourth character the soaring, watchful eagle, Ardziv assumes the role of narrator and offers a touch of magic realism. He is a guiding light and savior to the children along their escape. Readers will need to adjust to the style to follow the story, but they will be rewarded with a powerful tale balancing the graphic reality of genocide with a shining spirit of hope and bravery in young refugees coming to terms with their world.--O'Malley, Anne Copyright 2014 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

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.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Review

Gr 8 Up-Thirteen-year-old Aremenian twins Shahen and his sister, Sosi, live in the 1914 Ottoman Empire with their loving parents; younger sister, Miriam; and older brothers Misak and Kevorg. A Christian like the rest of their family, their 19-year-old sister, Anahid, is married to Asan, a Kurd, and is expecting a baby. Life is pleasant in their mixed religious community where their family makes its living as millers. However, when the cruel and hateful leaders of the Ottoman Empire decide at the start of World War I that the Armenians are "traitors" and should be eliminated, genocide ensues. Anahid is hidden by her in-laws at the risk of their own lives. Forced to leave their parents and brothers behind to certain death, Shahen, Sosi, and little Miriam barely escape and make a harrowing journey across the mountains, hoping for rescue and to somehow reach their uncle who lives in America. As Ardziv, an eagle, soars above, he adds a note of magical realism and a sense of omnipresent poetic narration to the authentic voices of the family members as he witnesses their joys, shock, and heartbreak. This beautiful, yet at times brutally vivid, historical verse novel will bring this horrifying, tragic period to life for astute, mature readers who enjoy books in this format or genre such as The Surrender Tree by Margarita Engle (Holt, 2008) and Between Shades of Gray by Ruth Sepetys (Philomel, 2011). A cast of characters, and author note with historical background are thoughtfully included.-Diane P. Tuccillo, Poudre River Public Library District, CO (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.