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The Sandcastle Girls

3.85  ·  Rating Details  ·  24,631 Ratings  ·  3,750 Reviews
One woman's journey into her family's past reveals a shocking story that has never been told.
1915, Aleppo, Syria. When Elizabeth Endicott steps off the boat from Boston, armed only with a crash course in nursing, nothing could have prepared her for the atrocities she is about to face. For Aleppo is the arrival point for the hundreds of thousands of Armenians who have been
Kindle Edition, 304 pages
Published July 17th 2012 by Doubleday (first published 2012)
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Lisa I just heard an interview by the author. The story is not true (the characters), but the novel is based on historical events and extensively…moreI just heard an interview by the author. The story is not true (the characters), but the novel is based on historical events and extensively researched. The author also traveled to Armenia for the novel (his ancestry).(less)
Gillian What end? The genocide or the book?

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Apr 14, 2012 Pam rated it it was amazing

I started this book a few days ago and I have to tell you that I am only able to read it in small bites. The book is so good and so very disturbing that I can feel myself becoming an emotional wreck! It has taken me about 10 days to get through this book. Not because it wasn't good, but because it is just THAT good. I can actually say for the first time in a very long time; I savored every single word of this book.

The subject of the book is the Armenian Genocide
I found this to be a moving story and great means to bring to life through fiction many key elements of the Armenian Genocide (“The Slaughter We Know Next to Nothing About”). Because of Bohjalian’s Armenian ancestry, the work is obviously a labor of love for him. He walks the tricky line between the need to draw as many readers as possible with an engaging and hopeful human story and the goal of imparting the truth of the brutal events of civilian starvation, rape, and slaughter. He achieves thi ...more
Aug 15, 2012 Melissa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I can honestly say that this was the ONE book I was DYING to read all summer. I vacillated whether or not to purchase it just so I could get my hands on the thing as soon as it was released. I refrained and waited on the library copy. It was $20 saved.

What I liked:

• Setting/historical significance: I knew nothing of the Armenian genocide. How did I not know that between 1 and 1.5 million Armenians were slaughtered at the hands of the Turks during WWI? High School and college history: Fail. Than
Jul 14, 2012 Rachel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am not one to read historical fiction very often. I saw this on a First Reads giveaway and was lucky enough to win a copy. After reading it, I've determined that I need more historical fiction in my life!

I found it difficult to read this at first, because it is filled with so many interesting, as well as shocking details. I have no prior knowledge of the Armenian genocide that took place, and I found myself deeply invested in reading and understanding each detail of the story. Because of the h
It's been one hundred years since the start of the Armenian genocide in the spring of 1915. Chris Bohjalian's Armenian heritage inspired him to write this book. The story has two threads--the first set in Syria in 1915, and the other in the northeastern United States in 2012.

Elizabeth Endicott comes to Aleppo, Syria as a volunteer for the Friends of Armenia during World War I. She sees women and children coming to Aleppo from death marches across the desert. The men had already been killed by th
Aug 13, 2012 Dem rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: recommended
The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian is a powerful and unforgettable historical novel depicting the Armenian Genocide. It is an epic story of love and war that will leave you pondering on the facts long after you have finished this novel.

This Novel is set in two timeframes. The past 1915 to 1916 and the present.

The book takes us back to a time when the First World War and the Armenian genocide of 1915-16 . Elizabeth Endicott arrives in Syria along with her father, they have volunteered on beh
May 02, 2015 Britany rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
100 years ago (April 24, 1915) over a million Armenians were forced out into the desert and brutally murdered in a plot to rid the world of their race. An event that isn't taught in history class and has almost disappeared into history as a result. I had no idea that this event had happened in the midst of everything else going on in the world during this time.

Chris Bohjalian takes an interesting approach to this story line. Bouncing between present day journalist in Bronxville, NY to 1915 Alep
Mar 06, 2013 Barbara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Boston Globe , 7/17/12, had a fine review of this book, which recounts the horrors of the Armenian genocide in 1915. Initially I was hesitant whether I wanted to read this, since I was so disappointed by Bohjalian's Secrets of Eden, but because he excelled with Skeletons at the Feast I decided that this would be interesting. I have entered the waiting list at my library.


It seems logical that while reading this book, my though
Dan Radovich
Apr 10, 2012 Dan Radovich rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In my opinion, this is the best work from Bohjalian. Knowing his passion for this subject made the experience all the more meaningful. This is so much more than a powerful history story, it is a wonderful love story - the love of an author and his heritage and craft. Thank you for bringing this story to us, Chris.
ETA: No, I didn’t really like this book. I just gave it three stars because I am glad Bohjalian wrote a book about the genocide. The narration was off, I didn’t like the two threads, particularly the modern one, and parts are written for the movies, i.e .way too theatrical, and yes even fluffy! I have changed the rating from three to two stars.

On completion:

I will give this three stars. Part of the problem is that there are two threads, a historical one and a modern one. I generally do not like
WOW. This book may make Mr. Bohjalian move to the top of my favorite author list. Where he gets ideas for his stories I don't know, but he is a master at weaving historical events into a beautiful story.

I am ashamed that I knew nothing of the Armenian Genocide.....was never taught nor even mentioned in history classes that I can recall. And that is a tragedy in itself. These atrocities should be taught and never forgotten. Thank you Chris Bohjalian for bringing this history to light.

This story
Books can do different things. They can entertain you, educate you, provide some escapism etc. Sandcastle girls did so many things for me. Firstly it made me weep, it gave me nightmares, it made me really feel for all the victims and survivors of the Armenian genocide. None of the other books I’ve read about the holocaust/Rwandan genocide has affected me this deeply. This may be because some of these books were documentaries, which makes them a bit more clinical, and some of them were biographie ...more
Jul 23, 2012 Lou rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Love and war.

This story of fiction deals with events from the past that are true.
The author successfully ingrains in your mind the stark reality of war and the tragic accounts of the brave characters contained within.
Women who have lost it all, no clothes on their backs or food to eat eyewitness to brutal slaying and murder of their kin to live and tell the tale.
You will learn of the genocide of 1915, a time of slaughter ‘The Great Catastrophe,’ a year you possibly wont forget once you finished
I was aware of the genocide of the Armenian people back in World War I days, but could only recall that it happened. I believe it was taught as a fact in world history in the junior year of high school. It was just there at the periphery of my brain. No details.
This book filled in all the details and then some. What is so shocking to me in hindsight is that a second such travesty played out in World War II with the Jews! All the signs were there, but went unread until way late.
This was not an
Aug 10, 2012 Angela rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 Stars A book about the genocide we know next to nothing about and a fantastically told story, heartbreaking and unbelievable at times. The story of a young Bostonian woman who arrives in Aleppo, Syria to aid the Armenian people who are being systematically wiped out by the Turks over territory and religion. As we near the centennial of this genocide when 1.5 million Armenians lost their lives, it's interesting to note that Aleppo is once again in the news and the stories are painfully famili ...more
Coincidentally, I chose to read this three year old book this year, in 2015, which is the 100-year anniversary of the Armenian genocide. What I love about historical fiction is that I get to learn relevant facts of history that I either tuned out in my school days or was never taught in the first place. In this case, it seems the news of the genocide didn't travel quickly. "...--How do a million and a half people die with no one knowing?--is really very simple. You kill them in the middle of now ...more
Feb 24, 2015 Tracey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I often mention how odd it is to start a Netgalley book without easy access to the synopsis; unless I know the publisher or author works in a specific genre, I'm at a loss, having read the book description before requesting it and then, being me, having promptly forgotten it among the other few dozen I asked for. It's drastically changed my reading habits, this Kindle/Netgalley combo. So, Sandcastle Girls: sounds like a beach book!

It's not. It's really not.

One of the two threads of the book
JoAnne Pulcino

Christopher Bohjalian

Christopher Bohjalian is an enormously gifted and talented storyteller who has set himself up to be the keeper of the flame. As in previous novels Mr. Bohjalian mystically zeros in on the lesser know but horrendous atrocities that should never be forgotten with an engrossing storyline and he never hits a false note in his elegant and exquisite prose.

THE SANDCASTLE GIRLS is a mesmerizing work of historical fiction influenced by the author’s heritage and d
Diane S ☔
Apr 17, 2012 Diane S ☔ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 This book was incredibly difficult for me to read, and yet without books like these horrific events and the people who survived them would be forgotten. The Armenian genocide of 1915, is not something we learned in school and Bohjalian does a masterful job of presenting it in all its honesty and horror. Yet amongst the cruelty, there are instances of love and kindness and caring, even by those who were ordered to carry out these atrocities. Human people, with real human feelings, yet just a ...more
Apr 14, 2013 Sheri rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was not impressed. I did not know (as the book says) about the Armenian genocide and so it was interesting to learn a bit of history. The story, though, was at first confusing and then just too contrived for my liking.

I thought the writing was at times too stiled and Bohjalian was trying too hard. He wanted to paint a broad picture, but sometimes his details were lacking. For example: “‘I hope it’s not only vengeance,’ he tells her, though that is indeed the largest part of it—that and the rag
Sep 25, 2015 Laura rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: group-reads
Content/plot very important and tragic historical event. Somehow this author and I don't jive. I love what the plot is about but the execution doesn't draw me in. I felt no endearment for the characters even though they were experiencing tragedy. This is the 2nd book by this author that I have read and I ended up disappointed again. I'm not sure why he can't draw me in. I'll try another because I didn't hate the experience.
Donna Antaramian
Jan 28, 2016 Donna Antaramian rated it it was amazing
“I was crying over the deaths of one and half million people, and a civilization in eastern Turkey that has been reduced to a mountain of bones in the ginger sands of Del-el-Zor”* Laura Petrosian

The Sandcastle Girls is a strong and memorable historical fictional novel depicting a true story of the Armenian Genocide. We hear the story of Elizabeth and Armen Petrosian though the eye of Laura, their granddaughter as she researches her family’s history and heritage, of love and losses and of a secr
Emily Crowe
While the emotional content of this book is trademark Bohjalian, the writer takes on a new depth and historical perspective in Sandcastle Girls that is not usually present in his more formulaic novels.

The little I knew about Turkish-Armenian relations came from working at a used bookstore, where a customer of mine bought up everything he could on Armenia. Occasionally he would toss out historical facts but eventually I learned it was a topic he didn't want to fully engage in, so it was fascinat
B the BookAddict
Mar 14, 2014 B the BookAddict rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I do like this concept; a novel where the main character is writing a novel. Laura, a writer from suburban New York is stumbles upon evidence that her grandmother lived through the genocide in Armenia in 1915. The book moves between modern times and the life of her grandmother revealing a wonderful story of determination, charity, love and family secrets. I love it when a book shows the reader occurrences in history we which may not been aware of. Armenian history was not new to me but this nove
Vahan Zanoyan
Mar 22, 2014 Vahan Zanoyan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A masterfully crafted book. More consequential than any thriller.
Elizabeth A
Feb 28, 2015 Elizabeth A rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
I've waited three days before reviewing this book to see if I would change my mind. I have not. I love historical fiction, and find the genre a wonderful way to immerse myself in a world/time/place. This novel contains a piece of history that everyone should know about - the genocide of approximately 1.5 million Armenians - and I applaud the author for writing an easily accessible book that might make this atrocity more widely known. And yet.

In preparation for a trip to Turkey a couple of years
Kelly Hager
Jul 09, 2012 Kelly Hager rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Chris Bohjalian is one of my must-read authors. The first book I read of his was Midwives and I enjoyed it so much, I read all of his others in probably two weeks (Before You Know Kindness was his then-most recent release). He's one of the few authors whose books I will buy (or, in this case, request for review) without even knowing what they're about. It doesn't really matter; I know that I will love his books. That ended up working out really well in this case. I tend to avoid war stories, and ...more
Sep 19, 2012 Dree rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars.

Excellent historical fiction about the Armenian genocide that took place during WWI, at the end of the Ottomon Empire. As the narrator says, it's the genocide no one knows about, and indeed I know much more now (though I did know something).

I honestly kept having to remind myself that this was fiction and not memoir--it is written with a narrator researching her grandparents' story. So, first person. If the narrator weren't female, it would have been even harder.

Excellent, depressing,
Sep 21, 2015 Nicole rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookclub, z-2015-read
I devoured this book in a little over 24 hours (I would have read it straight through but a little pesky thing called work interfered). This was a bookclub selection, and for me, a book I was unsure of if I wanted to read. I was enthralled with the historical information about a subject I knew nothing about: the Armenian Genocide. The descriptions were amazing. I could taste and feel the gritty sand, hear the tortured sounds of those being murdered, smell the stench of rotting bodies and soiled ...more
Aug 31, 2012 Michelle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What an awesome book! I had no idea about this piece of history until I read this.
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Winona Public Lib...: September 2015 Book Discussion Meeting 1 6 Aug 10, 2015 12:16PM  
Chelmsford Reads: * One Book 2015: The Sandcastle Girls, by Chris Bohjalian 3 18 Feb 12, 2015 05:54PM  
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Elizabeth's secret 9 187 Aug 10, 2014 11:18PM  
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Lincoln, Vermont’s Chris Bohjalian is the author of 18 books, most of which were New York Times bestsellers. His work has been translated into over 30 languages and three times become movies.

Hi new novel, "The Guest Room," a story of a human trafficking, a marriage in crisis, and two remarkable women, just went on sale.

His books have been chosen as Best Books of the Year by the Washington Post, th
More about Chris Bohjalian...

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“But history does matter. There is a line connecting the Armenians and the Jews and the Cambodians and the Bosnians and the Rwandans. There are obviously more, but, really, how much genocide can one sentence handle?” 41 likes
“When it seems you have nothing at all to live for, death is not especially frightening.” 29 likes
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