Judy Ayyildiz
Judy Ayyildiz asked:

Why does the heroine, Adalet's (name means, "Justice") life story parallel her country of Turkey's struggle for freedom in the last century? Now that the real Adalet is gone and the Turkish Republic is over 90 years old with its democracy having gone through many changes, why should a story like Forty Thorns bring inspiration in today's world?

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Judy Ayyildiz Adalet was born as the Ottoman Empire was crumbling. As a youth, she experienced old friendships and ties with other ethnic and religious groups breaking away after hundreds of years of alliances. Then, there was ethnic cleansing of Turks in the Balkans followed by the invasion and slaughter of the Balkan Wars. Adalet escapes with her life to Istanbul and her home and way of life is wiped out. Her family returns after the wars and like other Ottomans, rebuilds and replants and tries to hope for the future. Shortly, WWI begins. Adalet's brother goes to war. Her uncle is captured and becomes a prisoner in Yemen and is thought to be dead. Adalet lives in confusion, fear, and she feels betrayed by old alliances. At the end of the war, the Allies invade the whole country and take control with the plan to destroy the last of the Ottoman Empire and make Turkey a Christian country. Adalet looses her faith in the Sultan, and falls in love with Burhan the blacksmith's son, who is a revolutionary. Against her family's wishes, she elopes and joins the revolutionary forces of former Ottoman General Kemal (Ataturk). Adalet is divided from her family. The country is divided against itself. Enemies are all around all of the time. The new republic stands alone and Adalet and Burhan stand alone with hope for a new future. When the new republic startles the whole world with its success, Burhan is a civic worker in the republic and Adalet works to rebuild a ravished country in every way she is able. She begins to give birth to her seven children, to teach the natives and children, and to move all over Anatolia and Thrace as the new country emerges. Ataturk gives women equality and Adalet is on the front lines to take advantage of all that is offered. The republic is secular but religious people worship as they wish. Adalet goes to free public lectures, movies, and does her prayers. Adalet is maturing, working with others, and learning like much of the entire country. When Burhan is transferred to Eastern Anatolia, Adalet becomes a teacher in Hakkari. She embraces Ataturk's idea of unity and progress through education and work. Years after Ataturk's death, the country has many problems of corruption and infidelity. Adalet experiences the same within her marriage. Burhan becomes the broken idealist and turns to corruption, and divorces Adalet, leaving her stranded with her her young adult children, who must find a way to exist in a world that has gone wrong. Some of the children do find ways, and some do not. Adalet is living in the midst of them, helping to hold all together the best she can. When Turkey begins to reach out to the rest of the world, Adalet begins the first of four trips to America, to be with her oldest son, who is a doctor. Had Adalet not been possessed with a progressive spirit, she would not have paralleled the route of the ones who turned the last of the Ottoman Empire into the New Republic of Turkey, built on democratic values. Adalet asked me to write her story because, in her last years, she saw her republic being pulled away from democratic ideals. She wanted the youth to remember what had been sacrificed, and what would be lost along with the ideals. Forty Thorns shows that, in fact, there was good reason that the whole world thought there could not possibly be a Turkish Republic. But, the world did not understand the greatness of Kemal Ataturk and his abilties to bring this about. Nor did it understand his special ability to make the masses believe in a better tomorrow by working together under great opposition.. During his 15 years as president, Ataturk did not wage another war; but rather, he spent his time on factories, education, women's rights, and finding a place in the world where his people could stand proud. This is a story that not only Turks should remember, but one that the whole world needs to hear over and over. All of the elements that destroyed Adalet's marriage and family stand outside of the door of every nation of this world. Those elements have been and will always be there, and their mission is to destroy.
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by Judy Light Ayyildiz (Goodreads Author)
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