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THE IMMIGRANTS' DAUGHTER: A Private Battle to Earn the Right to Self-Actualization [Kindle Edition]

Mary Terzian
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $19.95
Kindle Price: $9.99
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Book Description

- winner of Dan Poynter's 2012 E-Book Global Award in multicultural nonfiction.
- finalist in the National Indie Excellence 2007 Book Awards, in the multicultural non-fiction category. 
-  Winner Best Books 2006 Award in multicultural nonfiction.

In her award-winning book the author captures the universal immigrant experience through her personal memories. The scene is set in Cairo in the 1940's. She is a member of a tightly knit Armenian family living in an expatriate community of genocide survivors, or escapees, like her parents, from Turkey, during and after World War I. Peaceful life, joy with younger brother's arival and happy celebrations with the clan are rocked by World War II, trauma in the family and older brother's departure behind the Iron Curtain. The usual inter-generational tensions defending tradition against emancipation are constantly present, especially with regard to the  inferior status of women.  It is also a turbulent period in Egypt's political history, transitioning from kingdom to republic.

The Immigrants' Daughter, "laced with a perfect mix fo drama and humor . . ." is a triumph over destiny, a leap from passive acceptance of fate into a fierce battle for self-determination. Three educational institutions have been interested in reprinting excerpts from the book for use as an instructional tool.
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"THE IMMIGRANTS' DAUGHTER is a totally enjoyable read from start to finish. Ms. Terzian . . . is also a master at sensory detail, knowing when and how much to add so that readers are engaged in the surroundings without ever being overwhelmed. Women of all nationalities will be amazed at her strength and character as she takes them through her struggles to overcome Middle Eastern ideas regarding 'a woman's place' in society in the 1940's . . ." - Excerpted from judge's comments, 18th Annual Writer's Digest International Self-Published Book Awards

Editorial Reviews


"... a unique way of using tongue in cheek humor to lighten the impact of hopelessness... a talented writer..."        Midwest Book Review
"...shifting cultural contexts within which a young woman must ...finally create, herself ...compelling memoir ..."      Story Circle Book Review

Product Details

  • File Size: 450 KB
  • Print Length: 300 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 159113773X
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher:, Inc. (August 30, 2005)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004TMMJ90
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,223,409 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Against All Odds June 27, 2006
This is the moving dramatic story of the early life of Mary Terzian. It is told in a first person voice. The story progresses from Mary's birth and preschool through to her young adulthood. Mary Terzian spent her childhood in a community of immigrants in the city of Cairo. These people have been traumatized by genocide and deportation from Historical Armenia under Ottoman rule. This inquisitive young girl's questions go unanswered. She does not understand the "why" behind the disparity in gender roles, the importance of tradition, religious superstitions, and cultural issues.

Mary's mother instills in her the importance of getting an education, while her father presses traditional expectations of women and domesticity. At age ten, Mary's mother dies. Home life becomes unbearable. After the death of her mother she writes: "I hide Mama's absence like an ugly abscess because not having a mother is embarrassing. Everybody has one. I feel like I am being punished."

After only four months her father chooses a new wife, a stepmother to take over the household duties and child rearing. "Stepmother" has other plans for the marriage. She shows no love for the children. Mary is made to assume many of the household tasks and childcare responsibilities for her younger brother. In a backdrop of World War II Mary struggles for an identity. She drives herself to excel in school. Books become her escape. At one point she describes herself as "emotionally homeless."

The story moves quickly through the years that follow, however, the author expresses it this way: "The evolution from an affable, dependent, defensive young girl to a self-supporting, confident, decisive woman is a long, rough, and trying journey.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
This book, about the daughter of Armenian immigrants who escaped genocide in Turkey and resettled in Egypt, is about the adversity that the author dealt with in her own household after the death of her mother when she was still a child. Well written and easy to read, the book is written from her perspective as a child growing up in a household in Cairo, Egypt at a time when Egypt, in the 1940s was going through many socio-political changes, from the pleasant days of a cosmopolitan, diverse society heavily influenced by England, through World War II, and the transfer from a monarchy to a Republic, in which indigenous Arabs began exerting their influence in all spheres of life.

Ms. Terzian has a great ability to distill an entire span of some twenty years into numerous vignettes and episodes that powerfully convey her desire to become educated and to overcome stereotypical notions about the role of a woman in society and in the household. The lack of love and appreciation for her accomplishments by her stepmother and father merely serve to strenghten her resolve to break from the shackles of convention and limited expectations. At the same time, she puts in perspective what it feels like to be a member of a people -- the Armenians -- who are displaced from their historic homeland and are forced to make adjustments in what was then a polyglot of cultures in Cairo, Egypt.

Ultimately, it is a story of personal triumph, if not reconciliation, as Ms. Terzian describes her journey as a United Nations employee, utilizing her French and English skills in such far-flung places as the Congo and Togo.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unforgettable Memoir April 2, 2008
In The Immigrant's Daughter, Mary Terzian has crafted a page turning account of her experience growing up in Cairo in a family that considers losing their ties to the Armenian "Motherland" a betrayal of their forefathers' massacre. Vividly told, with amazing recall, Terzian makes a peaceful, pre-war era come alive, from the sights and smells of the marketplace, right down to the buttons on her school uniform. You feel her anguish at the loss of her mother at a young age, her fear during World War II air raids, and the pressure to excel as a student while enduring the scorn of her father over wasting money on a girl's education. Sheer determination, grit and resolve are underlaid with aching vulnerability and leavened with humor. Once you pick this book up, you won't want to put it down.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must READ!!! August 31, 2007
This award winning book, "The Immigrant's Daughter," by Mary Terzian, is a literary achievement in more than one dimension. Her personal experience of growing up in Cairo, Egypt, in a family that was deported from its ancestral Armenian homeland, is most captivating and heartwarming. The emotional stress and psychological turbulences, caused by constrictive family traditions, in a young girl who is striving for respect and identity, are presented with eloquence draped in simplicity. Mary's style and language, often seasoned with subtle humor, are the manifestations of her professionalism and creativity.

The impact of "The Immigrant's Daughter" goes beyond the Armenian-Egyptian bi-cultural environment. The ongoing industrial and economic globalization is creating multicultural societies across the continents. Millions from third world countries or rural areas are moving to more industrialized cities or countries. Consequently the adaptation of old traditions and cultures with prevailing conditions creates internal strife in families. Inevitably children are caught between these conflict-filled circumstances, facing individual challenges. These children and subsequent generations could certainly benefit from Mary Terzian's real-life experiences by reading the loud message in her book: uncompromising pursuit of education, motivation, perseverance, and adaptation of traditional moral values in a new milieu.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars The Imigrant's Daughter
A very interesting book. The book arrived in good condition. I read this book for a book club that I belong to.
Published 14 months ago by annieoakley
4.0 out of 5 stars Loved it in spite of myself
This book is the true story of a woman born in Cairo to Armenian parents who escaped the genocide. Her father is an angry man, hard-working, trying to hold onto traditions in a... Read more
Published 15 months ago by V. Kalambakal
5.0 out of 5 stars a story of incredible stamina and determination
I already knew about the shocking Armenian genocide that took place early in the 20th century. However, Mary Terzian's book sheds light on another aspect of this terrible tragedy,... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Katherine (Kas) Sartori
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read
Mary Terzian's Immigrants' Daughter: A Private Battle for Self-actualization is a story of the Armenian survivors of the 1915 genocide, their Old World mentality, and their... Read more
Published 19 months ago by Rubina Peroomian
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard to put down, what a read!
I bought this book because my mother was the daughter of an Armenian mother and Syrian father. My mother was born in Syria, but grew up in Cairo, seven years ahead of the author,... Read more
Published on June 23, 2012 by R. Alexandra
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing authentic biography
The book is written with a style that has both humor and sadness at the same time. I find that quality hard to find in many books. Read more
Published on August 7, 2011 by Tony
5.0 out of 5 stars The Immigrants Daughter
I was surprised that I really enjoyed this book , normally I like historical books but this was an interesting story, I felt like i was there.
Published on June 16, 2010 by Linda Stancil
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book for discussion.
I lead the book discussion group at the Huntington Beach Central Library in Huntington Beach. Two months ago we read and talked about "The Immigrants' Daughter", a memoir by Mary... Read more
Published on May 23, 2010 by Diane M. Schochet
5.0 out of 5 stars A Compelling Read.
Today, I read the book, cover to cover, in one sitting.

As it is for author Mary Terzian, reading, for me, is a lifelong passion. Read more
Published on March 16, 2010 by Judith M. Paparelli
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Reading...
This book is an enjoyable, if rather melancholic, read. Mrs. Terzian's story of her childhood and early adult life in WWII-era Cairo is heartfelt and lovingly told. Read more
Published on June 13, 2009 by Liebestraume
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More About the Author

Born and brought up in Cairo, Mary Terzian became fluent in English in high school. Writing has been her sideline on and off her itinerant working career in Congo, Togo and Lebanon. She traveled in Africa, Europe and the Soviet Union before settling in the United States where she continued her education. Writing has been a liberating experience for her, bringing out a most unexpected trait in a poker-faced person - her sense of humor.

Terzian's articles, first in Armenian, then in English, have been published in newspapers, magazines, anthologies and online (keyword -Mary Terzian). Her first book, The Immigrants' Daughter, "laced with the perfect mix of drama and humor" won a Best Books 2006 Award in multicultural nonfiction. She was a Finalist in Indie Excellence 2007 Book Awards. She also won Dan Poynter's 2012 Global E-Book Award in multicultural nonfiction.

Recent requests were received from educational institutions for reprints of excerpts from the book for classroom study of immigrants or for a college prep book. Also, the first two pages of the prologue have been posted on Queensland's (Australia) Department of Education's website, for use by their teachers and students. The prologue depicts an immigrant's dilemma faced with the question "where do you come from?"

A radio interview on 2/20/2012 is posted at:


Further information is available at:


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