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By Cathy Burnham Martin

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Interesting characters and vivid details aid in telling an engaging story of how an Armenian family immigrates to the United States in the early twentieth century in Cathy Burnham Martin's DESTINY OF DETERMINATION.

An Armenian family immigrates to the United States in 1916 to flee the wrath of the Turkish Empire. Strong faith and family ties enable them to complete a journey that is fraught with fear and uncertainty.

The opening chapters of Cathy Burnham Martin’s DESTINY OF DETERMINATION take place in 2011 when Cassie Mavin and her husband Roy return from work one day to find their home had been burglarized. Intruders had ransacked the entire place and stole anything of value. Thinking the burglars have run off with her most prized possession—her great grandmother’s wedding ring—Cassie reflects on the incredible journey her Armenian relatives took when they escaped from their volatile native country and immigrated to America in 1916. Not only was the trip across the Atlantic on the SS Kristianiafjord difficult and worrisome, so were the immigration processing at Ellis Island and their subsequent adjustment to a new lifestyle and culture. The remainder of the book, except for the last few chapters, chronicles their challenging adventure and new life in the United States.

This story is appealing in that author Martin—based on her own family history—weaves together an interesting story of early twentieth century Armenians fleeing their country to avoid being killed by the Turks of the Ottoman Empire. Their emotional journey includes sacrifice, struggle, and difficult relationships. Their determination, family ties, and faith in God and mankind allow them to eventually settle into and maintain a satisfying lifestyle. Martin states that DESTINY OF DETERMINATION is “telling her family’s true story as historical fiction.” This is confusing since “true story” implies content based in fact, like what one would include in a memoir, but “fiction” is defined as content created from someone’s imagination. Furthering the confusion, the narrative is structured neither as a memoir nor a novel. Readers expecting an historical novel may be disappointed by the lack of a strong narrative arc—a solid beginning, middle, and ending. And while those looking for a true story will appreciate all the family photographs, they may feel frustrated not knowing which parts of the story are true and what has been fictionalized.

Much of the dialogue in DESTINY OF DETERMINATION is stilted and formal—unlike how most real people talk—taking away from the authenticity of the communication. And some dialogue contains backstory, causing characters to sound more like a narrator than themselves. Also, a thorough proofreading would eliminate errors in spelling, capitalization, punctuation and in writing numbers and dates. A professional editor would be able to help with better sentence structure and adherence to the “show, don’t tell” rule of writing.

Interesting characters and vivid details aid in telling an engaging story of how an Armenian family immigrates to the United States in the early twentieth century in Cathy Burnham Martin’s DESTINY OF DETERMINATION.

~Florence Osmund for IndieReader

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