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Forgotten Fire

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  2,001 ratings  ·  334 reviews
A National Book Award Finalist.

In 1915 Vahan Kenderian is living a life of privilege as the youngest son of a wealthy Armenian family in Turkey. This secure world is shattered when some family members are whisked away while others are murdered before his eyes.

Vahan loses his home and family, and is forced to live a life he would never have dreamed of in order to survive. S
Paperback, 304 pages
Published April 9th 2002 by Laurel Leaf Library (first published 2000)
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Levon EVHS Gevorgyan If that teen can read Night, Anne Frank's Diary, and Thing's Fall Apart, then yes.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
4.21  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,001 ratings  ·  334 reviews

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Josh Stoll
Mar 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This book is incredibly powerful. It deals with a forgotten period in history-- the Armenian genocide of the WWI era-- so it's already set itself apart. The writing is beautiful and appropriate for the subject matter. The main character, Vahan, is also a compelling one, as he is both terrified and determined.
Summary: Vahan and his family all live in the Armenian village of Burtis, and seem to live something of an idyllic life. Soon, however, his family members start disappearing, marking the sta
Jun 09, 2008 rated it really liked it
An illuminating look at the Armenian genocide, which we don't remember often enough.
Apr 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I’m not sure why but based on the cover I assumed that this book was going to be just another YA novel that glosses over the tragedy of genocide. However, it was not. What a heart wrenching portrayal of a moment in history that is often forgotten or overlooked. Truthfully, I didn’t know much about the Armenian genocide before reading this book, so I’m really glad that I had the opportunity to do so. This was an excellent novel. Highly recommend.
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
Excellent book on the Armenian genocide in Turkey during World War I. Pair this with David Kherdian's The Road From Home.
David Schaafsma
Sep 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya-genocide
Books have a unique way of stopping time in a particular moment and saying: Let’s not forget this. -Dave Eggers

Last night I finished this book about the Armenian genocide in the early twentieth century, now all but forgotten in the wake of other international genocides that are more recent and more written about. I knew about it, but didn't know details, and still don't in an broad sense, as this book is not about the political and social conditions in which these horrors happened. It's a tale m
Joseph Wehmeyer
Jan 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Forgotten Fire Review
Joseph Wehmeyer, 1/31/17, Pd.8, It's Alive
Author: Adam Bagdasarian, 271 pages published in 2000, genre: historical fiction

Vahan Kenderian is a 12 year old boy living in Bitlis, Armenia right before WWI. In the book Forgotten Fire by Adam Bagdasarian, tells the story or Vahan’s struggle to survive during the Armenian genocide in WWI. In the hands of the Ottoman Empire, the Turkish feared that the Armenians were a threat to the government’s security and that their suffering ma
Jun 27, 2012 rated it liked it
I read this book some months ago, and i can't stop thinking about it. It's a book about a very tough subject, genocide.

This book tells the story of a kid and his journey during the Armenian genocide that occurred in Turkey approximately in 1915, if I'm not mistaken. He came from a good and established family, his father worked for the Turkish government, they thought that because of this, they could have special privileges and not suffer through everything that was about to happen, but no. As Ar
Feb 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya-i-read
Forgotten Fire by Adam Bagdasarian
This is one of the best books that I have read in a long time, simply because it is so well told and true to life. It is hard to think that the terrible actions in this book really took place, but the triumph of the main character over his circumstances is a hope to us all.
Major Characters:
Vahan Kenderian: A young (twelve years old when the book begins) upper-middle class Armenian boy who is thrust into a world he doesn’t recognize or understand when the Turks w
Jul 31, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: ya-and-teen
The story is brutal; the first fifty or one hundred pages walk the reader through bodies like detritus. Parents taken, killed, siblings shot and buried in gardens, suicide by poison, death by disease. Walking through the streets in escape, attempting a passive face while stepping through the massacre.

For me, the connotation of the word "family" has changed in the past several years, and this is the lens through which I read literature. When a decade ago, I could have read this passively, as an
Feb 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing

War, death, family and hope.

Heres' A Description:

'In 1915 Vahan Kenderian is living a life of privilege as the youngest son of a wealthy Armenian family in Turkey. This world of comfort and security is shattered when some family members are whisked away and others are murdered before his eyes. In too short a time, Vahan loses his home and family and, to survive, is forced to live a life he could never have dreamed of. Somehow Vahan's incredible s
Kara Danielsen
Feb 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I thought this book was extremely well written. I loved that the book was written by the main character, Vahan Kenderian’s great nephew. My favorite type of books is nonfiction and although this is a realistic fiction, I enjoy that so much of it is true and as the author quotes, “I felt that the most important thing I could do was involve the reader emotionally.” The author listened to his great uncle’s recording of his life and decided to write a book about it. Vahan is from a wealthy Armenian ...more
Andrew Aslnaian
Jun 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
There are two reasons to why I read this book. One being that the book is about my culture and the hardships they faced. Another factor is that both my grandparents have read it and recommend it to me.

Vahan Kenderian is the youngest son in a wealthy Armenian family that lives in Bitlis, Turkey. Obviously, his happiness and stability was removed by the fact that his family was destroyed. Vahan now must endure his upcoming quest towards survival knowing he will live a life in poverty throughout it
Sep 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya-lit-2011-2012
Rating: **** I thought this was a very well written book that was informative and gripping. Even though the Armenian Holocaust is a very depressing subject, I kept reading because the story was very moving.

Genre: historical fiction

Plot Summary: Vahan Kenderian is an Armenian living well in Turkey when the Turks start eradicating all Armenians. When most of his family is murdered Vahan begins a fight for survival and a journey that puts him in situations he never dreamed possible. Throughout his
Oct 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
Adam Bagdasarian, author of Forgotten Fire, did a superb job of fictionalizing the story of his great uncle's run for survival from the Armenian genocide during World War I. The author spares no expense in truly articulating the degradation of mind, body, and spirit as twelve year old Vahan Kenderian is taken from his home and forced to endure in several situations unfathomable for a child of that age - he sees his two older brothers shot to death; sees his sister, dead from taking poison, carri ...more
Mar 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Plot summary:
Vahan Kandarian has it all: a happy and blessed family, friends, a big home, riches; he never has to worry about his needs being met and exceeded. But all of that changes when the Armenian Holocaust begins. Literally overnight, this 12 year-old boy is demoted from prince to pauper. This novel is the story of his survival in chaotic and violent Turkey. What happens to young Vahan is unimaginable and depressing. He learns a hard lesson about character and dignity and what it really me
Jim Stewart
Mar 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: y-a-classwork
This novel, based on true events, is about a survivor of the Armenian genocide by the invading Turks. His name is Vahan and he is the youngest son of a rich Armenian family. Most of his family is murdered in the first third of the novel, and the pampered son becomes a refugee and fugitive, using wits, luck and the occasional sympathetic adult to get out of increasingly dire straights.
This novel is refreshingly free of sentiment and pretension. The prose is tight and unforced and results in a b
Aug 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
Adam Bagdasarian's Forgotten Fire is set during the Armenian genocide. The Armenian genocide is the genocide that actually led to the creation of the word "genocide." It was begun by the Turks, who were led by the "Young Turks," during the First World War. Wikipedia suggests that between 600 000 and 1.8 million people were massacred. Bagdasarian suggests here that about one million people were killed.

This young adult novel follows Vahan Kenderian, a fifteen year old born to wealth and power. How
Kristine Kouba
Feb 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
Plot Summary: A 12 year old boy grows up in a wealthy household, with family, friends, money, and laughter. A war/ destruction takes place in his town and the family endures several struggles. The boy sees his family members killed and taken, and he ends up becoming an orphan. He moves from town to town and travels.. he is trying to find safety, food and possibly people who will bring comfort to his empty life.

Main Characters: Vahan- careless in school, lacked disipline and character, wanted to
Emilie W
It's a gripping work of historical fiction. Vahan falls from his life of priviledge and security gradually separated from his beloved family and cast out into the reality of a strong billowing hate--the Armenian/Turkish conflict. His story is one that will impact its readers. I felt most impacted during Sisak and Vahan's walk, Vahan wants mothing more than to surrender, but he summons power to persevere by pretending he was someone else--his father. I felt empowered reading about Vahan's inner s ...more
Ali El-Zein
Feb 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Forgotten Fire, by Adam Bagdasarian, is a realistic fiction/survival book about an Armenian boy named Van escaping Turkish authorities in the First World War. The book is written through Van's perspective and what he experienced running away from his hometown of Bitlis. Throughout the book the author takes away many characters and darkens the mood of the story, it starts with Van talking about himself before all of the events in the book as a rich and even spoiled kid in Bitlis. Then his family ...more
Aug 28, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: serious
[rating = B-]
This somewhat tragic book is about a boy who lived through the Armenian Holocaust. His family disappears, one by one, and his life is turned to rubble; he struggles to survive. His once high regard is now diminished and peasant-like. The language is not impressive; it is child-like which gives the book a more genuine narrative. Something doesn’t feel right as one reaches the end, it is not complete and the ending is a cliff-hanger with no walkway to continue on. The story itself is
Ann Marie
Oct 26, 2010 rated it liked it
I choose this book because of my step father...he fled Turkey when he was just a teenager and came to America...I never got to hear anything about his life in Turkey...this book was yet another way to say -- hey, everyone, every nationality, every culture, every religion, every blood line somewhere along the way was persecuted, tortured, starved, mistreated...everyone of us has it in our history...I think people need to be one race can claim ownership of the worst of one ra ...more
Oct 04, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: history and survival story buffs
This has the same virtues and flaws as Over a Thousand Hills I Walk With You . It’s an excellent story of a genocide told from a child’s perspective, and suspenseful. However, there was none of the broader context of why the Armenian genocide happened, and that was very frustrating. I know a young boy probably wouldn't know, but an illuminating afterword would have been nice.
Bryan Willis
Feb 25, 2010 rated it liked it
Brief Summary: It is the tale of an Armenian boy who grows up during the world war I persecution of Armenians by the Turks and manages to survive the various stages of the butchery.

Main Character: Vahan

Key Concepts: Survival, morality, faith, hope, and hatred. A twelve year old trapped amidst one of the least known and yet none the less savage attempts at genocide in human history. How would you feel, think, act, hate, and hope all at once when you are almost certain that your entire family has
Jan 26, 2016 added it
It was a good book overall but sometimes it was a bit confusing because I wasn't very familiar with the time period. It was really sad and dark how in the course of 2-3 years he lost his entire family from the war and all his family's wealth. I'm glad he at least made it out of the war but I feel bad because he lost everything he had. I would recommend reading it because the storyline was good and well written!
Dina Donofrio
May 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
My 8th grader read this for school and recommended I read it. Very sad and sometimes hard to read historical fiction, but it was interesting and well written. I wanted to keep reading to find out what became of the narrator. Definitely shows the strengh of the human spirit in horrible circumstances.
Jan 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was well written and tells an important story about the Armenian Genocide. It is a quick read. I found myself looking up information and reading more about the genocide. The author fits many of the important details into the book though.
Kaylyn Lyle
Aug 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book repeatedly broke my heart. A well written, unforgettable and gripping story.
Jennifer Mays
Apr 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 11-20
In 1915, Vahan Kenderian is living a privileged life as the youngest son of a wealthy Armenian family in Turkey. However, his world of comfort and security falls apart when Turkey entered World War I, causing the Turks to against the Armenians. Vahan's family and friends are taken away or killed before his eyes. In a short time, he loses his family and friends and is forced to live a life he never imaged he would have in order to survive. Through his hardships, Vahan is able to endure it all thr ...more
Mar 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Who now speaks of the Armenians -- Adolf Hitler, 1939

Time takes everything, Vahan. But your heart, your character, your faith, do not belong to time.

The first quote, I grew up hearing from my Armenian mother, grandmother and family. As an Armenian, I grew up hearing the abridged versions of my family story. To read this story, with all of the horrible details is an important reminder of what can happen when hate drives decision making. It reminds of of the horrors which are committed behind the
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Adam Bagdasarian is an Armenian American writer for teenagers and young adults. His first novel, Forgotten Fire, became a National Book Award Finalist. His second novel First French Kiss: and other traumas gained as much success as his first one. He resides in New York City.

Son of Ross Bagdasarian creator of Alvin and the Chipmunks and younger brother of Ross Bagdasarian Jr.

I read My Name Is Aram,
“The problem with loneliness is that, unlike other forms of human suffering, it teaches us nothing, leads us nowhere, and generally devalues us in our own eyes and the eyes of others.” 42 likes
“There is nothing these hands can hold worth having. They cannot hold the moonlight, or the melody of a song, or even the beauty of a woman. They can touch her face, but not her beauty. Only the heart can hold such things.” 16 likes
More quotes…