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The Road from Home: The Story of an Armenian Girl by David Kherdian

The Road from Home: The Story of an Armenian Girl by David Kherdian

There was more than one wide-scale genocide in the 20th century. In 1916, the Turkish Minister of the Interior Talaat Pasha sent a letter to the government of Aleppo in Syria reminding them that all Armenians living in Turkey were be destroyed completely: “An end must be put to their existence, however criminal the measures taken may be, and no regard must be paid to either age or sex nor to conscientious scruples.”  It was an order that was to be echoed by Adolph Hitler in 1939 in pursuing the end of “the Polish-speaking race.” Hitler added, “After all, who remembers today the extermination of the Armenians?”

A few persecuted refugees survived to remember. In David Kherdian’s Newbery Honor book, The Road from Home, Veron Dumehjian is a bright, beloved girl in a well-off family when the orders come to move out the Armenians from her town. Only a few years before, there had been widespread killing of her people. This time it was to be an exodus, but to where? As the wagons and people on foot dragged along, day after day, under close guard, it seemed the trail seemed to lead them into a desolate area where nothing could be expected to survive.

But the Dumehjian family is determined to survive. In this true story—told to the author by his mother, Veron—the lengths that they have to go to simply secure peace and safety are extraordinary. There is much sorrow here, yes, for not everyone is spared. But Veron does survive and remembers not just the terror and loneliness of those times but also the good that came along the way.  There is the sweetness of unexpected friendships, the courageousness of adults who cared for her, and her own emerging self-reliance as she became, despite the hardships she endured, a lovely young woman whose “Road from Home” ultimately led her to America.