by Nancy Kricorian

Grade Level: Eleventh Grade to Adult
This book starts in a suburb of Boston with the passing of Zabelle Chahasbanian, an elderly grandmother whose history remains obscure to her family. The story traces back to Zabelle’s adolescence in the waning days of Ottoman Turkey, where she survives the 1915 Armenian genocide and near starvation in the Syrian dessert. Zabelle’s story includes years in an Istanbul orphanage through her fortune in finding her way to the United States.

From Library Journal:
Zabelle Chahasbanian, the seventysomething matriarch of an Armenian-American family, is dead. Her children gather to plan her funeral. What was special about Ma, they wonder. It is clear that at least they know nothing of the extraordinary life of this “ordinary” woman, her struggles and her dreams. They do not know much of the annihilation of her family in her homeland during her childhood or of her survival and emigration to the United States as the bride of a man she had only seen in a photograph. They know only the barest facts about her friendship with Arsinee, a spunky, irreverent woman who was Zabelle’s lifelong mainstay. They know nothing of her poignant romance with a man named Moses. So what was special about Ma? Plenty. This first novel is a tender portrait of family, friendship, and love. Highly recommended. Kay Hogan, Univ. of Alabama Lib., Birmingham