Monday, November 17, 2008

Monthly Book Review

Three Apples Fell From Heaven by Micheline Aharonian Marcom

Three Apples Fell From Heaven is a fictional account of the lives of characters living through the Armenian Genocide during the years 1915-1917. The title, based upon a derivative of the folk tale ending “...and they lived happily ever after” is repeated throughout chapters in the story, creating a beautifully interwoven subtext of hope and strength in a book that highlights much of the cruelty of humanity. The reader gets to know individuals such as Dickran, an infant whose mother must abandon him in the desert during their forced march to certain death. There is Anaguil, a teenage Armenian who, along with her younger sister, is safely housed among friends, but must now live her life in the guise of a Muslim. A young poet, named Sargis is kept in the attic by his mother, who can not allow her youngest son to be taken away to his death, but in turn he is driven mad by isolation. This is just a handful of the souls whose lives touch these pages. The lack of a chronological order between chapters lends itself to a swirling mix of names and circumstances which ensnares the reader and in effect brings them into the world of the story. This is a fictional story set in the real-life atrocity that was the Armenian Genocide. The recognized first day of the massacres is April 24, 1914 when hundreds of community leaders were arrested and executed in Constantinople. The Turkish Government, known as the Young Turks, is responsible for systematically trying to remove all Armenians from the Ottoman Empire by using deportation, starvation, massacre and other such cruel acts. The first round of genocide concluded in 1918 but started again in 1920 and finally ended in 1923 after the estimated death toll had reached one and a half million Armenians. This is from the only two million who were estimated to be living in the Ottoman Empire at that time. The world was also in the throes of WWI and though many countries, including Great Britain, France and the United States, condemned the actions of the Turkish government, no serious steps were taken to stop the massacres, nor was the governement made to pay restitution to the Armenians afterwards. To this day Turkey still does not recognize that a genocide occured.Three Apples Fell From Heaven was an absolute gem to read and worth reading over and over again. It is almost certainly necessary to read it twice because the reader can lose him or her self in the beautiful language and often glaze over the horrid details of the story. By no means does this detract from the message however. If anything, the picturesque language brings the reader back again and again, to re-remember the individuals enclosed within the bindings and the stories are no less heart-wrenching the second, third or fifteenth time through. I have read the book twice and I intend to read it again in hopes of finding new pieces of insight that I missed before, which is all too possible with the way all of the characters lives are intertwined, if only just.

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