One more account of the four-year occupation of Paris in World War II, this time seen through the eyes of an Armenian teenager morphing from clever child to heart-torn woman.
The normal events of daily life—studying for exams, meeting friends—are interleaved with loss and despair in the latest from Kricorian (Dreams of Bread and Fire, 2003, etc.), set in France in the 1940s, where the invading German troops’ arrival heralds a descent into hunger and peril. Maral Pegorian’s family is Armenian and has survived its own history of massacres and deportations before settling in a Parisian suburb. Now they watch anxiously, and intervene to save a child, as Jewish neighbors and schoolmates are rounded up and taken away. While her brother Missak gets involved in Resistance work, Maral falls in love with his best friend, Zaven. Forced underground, Zaven and his brother are eventually arrested by the Germans and sent to a concentration camp. After the liberation, only one brother returns, but the consequent trauma and somberness give way to freer, happier emotions as the war years fade.
More chronicle than plotted narrative, this is conventional, moderate fare, although Kricorian’s intermittently graceful prose can sometimes distract from the predictability and romantic soupiness.