In Daughter of War, author Marsha Skrypuch returns to her exploration of the Armenian Genocide, which was the basis for her critically acclaimed 2005 novel, Nobody’s Child. Working from first-hand accounts of historical events, she crafts a story that celebrates two brave and determined young people who, against all odds, never give up hope of seeing each other again.
At its core, this is a love story. But it’s also a quest, told from the perspective of several main characters. In 1915, the new government of Turkey started its systematic destruction of the Armenian people. Separated by cultures and distance, two young betrothed Armenians, Kevork and Marta, dream of being reunited. Their story plays out against a backdrop of political unrest, providing dramatic tension that doesn’t let up until the very end. Skrypuch keeps our hopes up, with no promise of a happy ending, while abundant cliffhangers keep us on edge throughout, before delivering a satisfying conclusion.
To provide historical context, Skrypuch includes a simple map as well as a short factual preface, both useful for readers unfamiliar with the complicated political climate of the era. The author’s third-person narrative voice tells the story in a stark, forthright style, as if even she is numbed by what she describes. The use of disturbing detail is relentless: descriptions are vivid, graphic, and at times horrifying. People inflict pain and suffering without remorse, children are deliberately shot by soldiers, death is everywhere.
Clearly, Skrypuch is trying to raise awareness of this historical tragedy by educating her readers, but the “history lesson” quality of the story detracts from the narrative at times. Still, Daughter of War is an unsettling but compelling novel that will appeal to mature young adult readers.