One Step At A Time: A Vietnamese Child Finds Her Way

One Step At A Time
One Step At A Time

Tuyet has found a loving family at last. Life in a strange new country presents many challenges for the young refugee, but she is determined to overcome them all, including the surgeries that will one day allow her to walk on her own in shoes that match.

Tuyet cannot believe her good fortune. Brought up in a Vietnamese orphanage and rescued from the invading North Vietnamese army, she has been adopted by a kind and loving family in Canada. Tuyet feels safe at last as she adjusts to a new language and unfamiliar customs. But polio has left her with a weak leg, and her foot is turned inward, making walking painful and difficult. There is only one answer; she must have a series of operations. Her dread of doctors and hospitals brings back troubling memories of helicopters, a field hospital, and another operation in Vietnam. It won’t stop Tuyet, despite her fears and her overwhelming shyness. She has always dreamed of having two straight legs, of walking and running, of playing with other children, of owning a pair of shoes that actually match. Now that she has been given a chance, Tuyet is determined to do what it takes to finally stand on her own two feet.In this sequel to Last Airlift: A Vietnamese Orphan’s Rescue from War, Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch continues Tuyet’s heart-wrenching true story of courage, family, and hope.
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The Hunger

hungerFifteen-year-old Paula’s perfectionism drives every facet of her life, from her marks in Grade 10 to the pursuit of a “perfect body.” A history project brings her face to face with her grandmother’s early life and, as she delves deeper, she is disturbed to find eerie parallels between her own struggles and what she learns of the past.

As Paula slowly destroys the very body she’s trying to perfect, her spirit is torn between settling for her imperfect life or entering the shadowy mystery of her grandmother’s Armenian past. The shimmering Euphrates River beckons her, but, as she soon discovers, there are many things worse than imperfection.
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Dance of the Banished

Based on true events, a compelling story of love and hope published on the 100th anniversary of World War I. .

DanceOfTheBanished_HR_RGB1Ali and his fiancée Zeynep dream about leaving their home in Anatolia and building a new life together in Canada. But their homeland is controlled by the Turkish government, which is on the brink of war with Britain and Russia. And although Ali finds passage to Canada to work, he is forced to leave Zeynep behind until he can earn enough to bring her out to join him.

When the First World War breaks out and Canada joins Britain, Ali is declared an enemy alien. Unable to convince his captors that he is a refugee from an oppressive regime, he is thrown in an internment camp where he must count himself lucky to have a roof over his head and food to eat.

Meanwhile, Zeynep is a horrified witness to the suffering of her Christian Armenian neighbours under the Young Turk revolutionary forces. Caught in a country that is destroying its own people, she is determined to save a precious few. But if her plan succeeds, will Zeynep still find a way to cross the ocean to search out Ali? And if she does, will he still be waiting for her?
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Stolen Child

They call her the “Hitler Girl” . . .

Stolen from her family by the Nazis, Nadia is a young girl who tries to make sense of her confusing memories and haunting dreams. Bit by bit she starts to uncover the truth — that the German family she grew up with, the woman who calls herself Nadia’s mother, are not who they say they are. Beyond her privileged German childhood, Nadia unearths memories of a woman singing her a lullaby, while the taste of gingersnap cookies brings her back to a strangely familiar, yet unknown, past. Piece by piece, Nadia comes to realize who her real family was. But where are they now? What became of them? And what is her real name?

This story of a Lebensborn girl — a child kidnapped for her “Aryan looks” by the Nazis in their frenzy to build a master race — reveals one child’s fierce determination to uncover her past against incredible odds.
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The Hunger: Franklin Street Little Library


I dropped off a few of my older books as a donation to the Franklin Street Little Library yesterday. Susan Gibson has already read The Hunger, and reviewed it:

The Hunger is local author, Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch‘s very first novel.  It intertwines the current experience of a young girl struggling with an eating disorders with the historical tragedy of the Armenian genocide.  This novel has a Brantford connection which will engage young adult readers that borrow this book from the Franklin Street Little Free Library.

The novel begins with Paula, a 15 year old student who strives for perfection and to be thinner.  She is a strong student who works hard and is helpful at home.  She is assigned a project about her family heritage and discovers that her grandmother, Pauline, has a secret history and an Armenian heritage.

Paula discovers scant information on the Armenian genocide and as she researches the starvation, massacres and horrendous abuse, she becomes emaciated and her own life becomes at risk.  The two stories collide as Paula experiences her own health crisis.  She begins to understand more about her grandmother’s life as she fights for her own.

This is a great historical novel that should be part of the curriculum for senior elementary school students.  In her first novel, Skyrpuch has educated the reader about this little known piece of history through a expertly woven tale much like her subsequent novels like Stolen Child, Dance of the Banished and Making Bombs for Hitler.

I personally love to read novels with local references and happened to attend both Agnes Hodge School and Ryerson School many years ago.  Being local, it was easy to imagine Paula running up the former library stairs (now Laurier Brantford) and spending time in the Brantford General Hospital.  It is engaging to visualize the locations that are referenced in the book.  Don’t think that this novel is ONLY for young adults, although it is a quick read for an adult (one evening) it is a story that is difficult to put down!

I would like to thank Marsha for donating this book (and others to be reviewed in future posts) to the Franklin Street Little Free Library and invite others to borrow it and comment below after reading it.


April 21: Worldwide Reading in commemoration of the Armenian Genocide

It poured rain and there was even some hail as I lugged my books plus a large object in a garbage bag into the Brantford Public Library. As I was drying out and setting up, Sharon Gashgarian also came in with a mystery object wrapped in plastic. Paula Thomlison, librarian extraordinaire, got us each an easel and we propped up our items, then hid them behind babushkas.


People began to come in, from Brantford, Cambridge, Burlington, Toronto … Soon, Paula had to get more chairs. It is a lovely thing when a presentation needs more chairs.

This presentation was to commemorate those writers who had been killed for speaking out about the Armenian Genocide. It was happening on April 21 all over the world. In Canada, the Montreal Armenian community was presenting at the exact same time as I was.

I read the passage from Dance of the Banished when 800 prominent Armenians were loaded into oxcarts used for garbage and taken out of Harput. Hours later, the oxcarts came back, bloodied and empty.


I then read an excerpt from a Danish missionary’s memoir recounting the eye-witness testimony of one man who escaped that massacre and made it back to the mission. After the reading, Victoria Bailey asked if I could show her the book that I had just read from. It turned out that one of her own ancestors had been given refuge at that Danish missionary’s orphanage, the Bird’s Nest. It was an emotional connection.


Next, I turned the floor over to Sharon Gashgarian, who, with much emotion, spoke of how she was affected by the painting that graces the cover of Dance of the Banished.




With permission from both me and the artist, Pascal Milelli, Sharon created a fabric artwork inspired by Pascal’s art. I unveiled his original and she unveiled her fabric art. Hers also included an inscription of “I remember” in Armenian, Ukrainian, English and French.








friends2ap21The library is displaying Sharon’s beautiful art piece in their window for the rest of April in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. Within the window too, are some of my books an also other books about the Armenian Genocide.

A moving evening for very many reasons.