As Zabelle's family assembles for her funeral in present-day Massachusetts, it becomes clear that her children hardly knew her. But as this alternatively comic and heartbreaking novel unfolds - beginning with Zabelle's survival of the 1915 Armenian Genocide in Turkey and her subsequent emigration to America for an arranged marriage - an unforgettable character emerges.
On the day the Nazis march down the rue de Belleville, 14-year-old Maral Pegorian is living with her family in Paris; like many other Armenians who survived the genocide in their homeland, they have come to Paris to build a new life. The adults immediately set about gathering food and provisions, bracing for the deprivation they know all too well. But the children - Maral, her brother Missak, and their close friend Zaven - are spurred to action of another sort, finding secret and not-so-secret ways to resist their oppressors.
Ani Silver is a young American woman whose half-Jewish, half-Armenian heritage seems a mere footnote to her own identity. But when the dark shadows of history insinuate themselves into her otherwise peaceful life, she is propelled into a profound and passionate series of journeys-a quest for a long-dead father, a search for the clues of a nearly forgotten genocide, and a love threatened by a quietly gathering storm of murder and retribution.