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Gardens of Water

3.63 of 5 stars 3.63  ·  rating details  ·  1,461 ratings  ·  313 reviews
An incredibly powerful debut novel about a family caught up in the tragic earthquake in Istanbul in 1999
Paperback, 338 pages
Published July 6th 2009 by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (first published 2008)
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Tea Jovanović
Dobar autor i dobra priča, ako ste u prilici nabavite knjigu... Zasad su je domaći izdavači zaobišli...
If I had only "read" this book, I would probably give it only two stars. But I had the rather different experience of listening to parts of it and reading parts of it. It is the story of a Kurdish Muslim family and its interaction with an American Christian family after an earthquake in Turkey. (The clash of cultures is the rather obvious part of the plot, but how that clash is played out is not as obvious) The reader of the audio version gave such an emotion-filled rendition of each of the char ...more
Jan 02, 2012 Laura rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Katie
Shelves: audios
Well, I really liked this book. A lot. (Strange to read some of the other reviews on goodreads, such a variety! The most negative ones seem to focus on the relationship between the two teens in the story but I think the book is about so much more.) It gave me a lot to think about - parental love and duty, cultural blindness, self blindness and the way our personal histories shape our ability to express ourselves and make decisions, etc. Some of the characters made me so angry. I just don't have ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Set in a small town outside Istanbul. Sinan, a devout Kurdish Muslim man and his wife Nilufer prepare for coming-of-age ceremony for Ismail, their 9 year old son. Irem, 15 year old daughter, feeling that she isn't equally loved, resents the attention focused on her brother. All Irem feels she is given is restrictions in the form of the strict rules separating her from boys/men, symbolised in the tight headscarf. Irem finds solace in a secret relationship with neighbour Dylan, 17 year old son of ...more
The novel Gardens of Water, is the first book that was written by Alan Drew, who was born and raised in California and has traveled all around the world. Drew attended the Iowa Writers' Workshop and has a master of fine arts degree. This book is about a girl, Irem, and her family, living in a small town outside Istanbul. They are Kurdish Muslim and have many strict beliefs. Irem and her family live in an apartment building with a couple other people, including an American family consisting of a ...more
Rosalind Gallaspie
Four days after arriving in Turkey , author Alan Drew survived the murderous 1999 earthquake. Out of this devastation and rubble, Drew constructs a narrative where individuals struggle with identity, tradition, and clashing religious and political realities.

Sinan Basioglu, a Kurdish club-footed grocer, is the core character around whom and whose family the novel's multiple story lines develop and who is confronted with the shifting ground of the fault lines of Istanbul and morals at the turn of
Honestly, if there were 6 stars, I'd give this book seven! I don't think I've read a more beautifully scripted book — especially a first novel by an author! — than this. Several times during the one evening during which I read it, I'd stop and say to my wife what a wonderful writer this man is. Then I'd read her several pages, a portion of the story.

I picked this up at our local library in my current quest to better understand Islam. This book is told primarily from the viewpoint of a Kurdish, M
My local library was selling some books the other day and I bought this one for just 50 cents. I can honestly say it was so much more than I expected it to be! 4.5 stars, even! The book is chiefly about the illicit relationship between a young Kurdish girl living in Turkey with conservative Kurdish parents and her American boyfriend. The girl naturally falls in love with a tatooed, Radio Head-listening American boy, whose dad is working in a disaster relief program assisting families whose lives ...more
Mandy Tanksley
"Gardens of Water" is a richly detailed, beautifully written emotional journey of the lives of one family and those in their neighborhood after a devastating earthquake rumbles through Turkey. Sinan Bashioglu tries to give his family the best he can no matter how poor he is, but throughout the story he disappoints one family member or another with the choices he makes. His family's apartment building is destroyed in the quake and Sinan has to move them to a tent city until he can afford train ti ...more
Beth Patrick
I picked this up off the library shelf without knowing anything about the author or subject. I do this quite a bit and I am often happily surprised with the results. It also helps to expand on subjects, so I don't get caught in a rut reading the same types of books.

Some of the subject matter is hard to digest, but it is told from the view of a culture with very old beliefs and sub-systems. I found it to be honest, sad, entertaining and informative.

I kept rooting for the daughter to jump out of
The setting of this book is Turkey at the time of the 1999 earthquake. In the book, a Muslim Kurdish family has been displaced and is living in an apartment building below an American family. The teenage daughter of the Muslim has fallen in love with the American boy and is feeling very jealous of her little brother who seems to be the favorite of her parents. The earthquake forces the family to live in a tent city created by American missionaries and the things become very difficult for the fat ...more
This was a really lovely, intricate kind of book. The setting was wonderfully portrayed--we as Americans want to think of Turkey in very romantic, exotic terms. Istanbul! Mosques! The gateway between Europe and Asia! We get all of those things, but in a matter-of-fact kind of way; it IS beautiful, but it's also a real place with real people, with a dark side, with complicated politics, with ugliness. The characters were much like that as well--their relationships complicated and fraught with pro ...more
Apr 25, 2009 Jodi rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Jodi by: Kirsten from Carlisle Book Club
Wow! I read this book was devoured in one delicious, melancoly sitting while driving to Wisconsin from Pennsylvania! I simply couldn't put it down! The book is set outside Istanbul and is about a Kurdish family and their American neighbors who live above them before the devastating earthquake occurs. The earthquake changes all their lives forever. I felt deep sympathy for the daughter, Irem, because her life seemed so limited by her culture to me and I could see that she yearned to break free. S ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This story was tragic with a capital T. More than just a Romeo & Juliet story of Irem, a Muslim Kurdish girl and Dylan, the son of a American Christian teacher. The details of the earthquake and its aftermath and the setting up of the refugee camp as well as the developing romance were well developed. Much of the story was told from Irem's father Sinan's point of view as he struggled to do the right thing for his family, to keep them safe and unsullied by outside influences.


Sometimes, obvious flaws in things like characterization can be overlooked because of how well the book is written overall. Such is the case here. It wasn't until I was nearly at the end of the book, when things were clearly winding down, that I realized that most of the major characters had not been fully developed, nor were their motivations always totally clear.

But perhaps in this book the individual characters were stand-ins for the eternal conflicts of East vs. West and one generation again
Reality is depressing and tragic in this novel about why Americans (Westerners) and Kurds (Muslims) will never overcome enemy status. I didn't love this book, but it is going to stay with me as a reminder of the clash between Christian and Muslim. Although it is fiction, I'm sure that the author's experience living in Turkey drove the main themes of the book. It seemed a bit presumptuous to me that an American man would attempt to write from not only a Muslim Kurd's point of view, but also from ...more
For me, this book is a 3.5. A family of Kurdish Muslims living in a small town outside Istanbul becomes entangled, disagreeably, with a family of American Ex-Pat Christian teachers. A deadly earthquake wipes out much of the village in the opening chapters of this book, and everything we know is suddenly upside down. The Muslim father abandons his wife and daughter for four days while searching for his son. When the son is found alive, sheltered in deep rubble by the body of the Christian wife, S ...more
Beautifully written, sensitive novel about a Kurdish family living near Istanbul, whose lives are thrown into chaos by the arrival of an American family, and a devastating earthquake shortly thereafter. The Kurdish family has a teenage daughter, who falls in love with the American family's son, and the book deals with the resulting cultural clash.

I really liked the character development in the book. The writer never relies on stereotypes, and even the supporting characters are well-drawn. He doe
This book was selected for our city's "One City, One Story" event for 2010, so I picked it up. It reminded me very much of The Kite Runner, in a good way. Both are grim but gripping tales of another culture, and in this case, the story involved a fictionalized version of a real event, at which the author was present. It's hard enough surviving the physical and emotional upheaval of a natural disaster, but what if the aftermath threatens to destroy your entire family?
The book involves cultural di
I read this book because it has been chosen as the Pasadena's 2010 One City, One Story book. I really enjoyed this story of two families and two faiths both living in Turkey. One family who is Kurd and Muslim and the other American and Christian. After a catastrophic earthquake, Sinan and his family are forced to live as refugees while the Americans enlist themselves to help these refugees. Consequently, Sinan's daughter, Irem falls in love with Dylan, the American boy. Their love defies all of ...more
Tamara Silver
Interesting to read a book that takes place in Turkey and the writing was fair, but the story felt stuffed into vignettes where the author thought to himself, "ok, now I'm going to explain how a worshipper feels when tourists tromp through their holy building", or "now I'm going to tell why a mother would support the subjugation of their daughter". It felt as if he had mental note cards of situations that he laced together with a plot-line instead of having a compelling plot and finding situatio ...more
This was a last-minute impulse buy from the bestsellers section at the bookstore. I wasn't sure why I picked it up except that the cover looked so familiar to Hosseini's The Kite Runner. Similar in size, at least.

Anything Islamic seems to sell these days. Set in Istanbul, Turkey, first time writer Alan Drew's story traces the life of Sinan and his family as he struggles caused through the upheavals of an earthquake that devastates his home. Poignant, and moving, the book mainly traces richly the
Oswego Public Library District
Cultural, religious and political boundaries are explored in this debut novel from Alan Drew. The author actually worked in Turkey as a teacher, arriving just four days before the 1999 earthquake. He brings that knowledge of how people coped with epic disaster to this tragic story. A young Kurdish Muslim girl falls in love with an American boy from a Christian family. The surrounding Muslim community and her parents are disturbed at this development. The boy's father organizes American aid for t ...more
I think I bought this book because it sounded like an interesting insight into life in Turkey - a country I have only visited once about 10 years ago on my last ever beach holiday (I'll never have another!). I wanted to know more about the 'real' Turkey and this book has certainly been an eye opener.
However depressing the story and whether you agree with the reasoning of Sinan and Irem and the family, it served to illustrate the contradictions of religion, whether Muslim or Christian (or indeed
Well, I was 100 pages in and then lost the book for about 3 weeks. I found it under the front seat of my car (where I swear I looked before!) and am about 2/3 of the way through. Interesting story - kind of a Turkish Romeo and Juliet with Kurds and Americans, but the writing is very simplistic. A good book for YA readers.

The writing is this book was superb. But I didn't love this book and I really do not know why. The story was a bit contrived. I felt like I knew and had possible even read this plot line in other books. For someone who craves unexpected and new story lines, this book fell very flat.

Vaikka kirja olikin hyvä ja sen luki yhdessä päivässä (sitten kun vain oikeasti aloitti lukemaan), niin mua jäi harmittamaan ihan suunnattomasti kirjan loppu ja kieli. Kirja oli vähän kuin Twilight, hyvä idea ja tarina, mutta vähän kehno toteutus ja surkea loppu.
I learned a lot about Turkey and enjoyed the storytelling of Alan Drew. I especially enjoyed the second half of the book. The perspective of the Kurds was an interesting one and something I wanted to learn more about so I appreciated that aspect of the novel.
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Dylan's Lack of Culture 1 24 Jul 29, 2009 07:02PM  
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Alan Drew was born and raised in Southern California and has traveled throughout Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. He taught English literature for three years at a private high school in Istanbul, arriving just four days before the devastating 1999 Marmara earthquake.

In 2004 he completed a master of fine arts degree at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where he was awarded a Teaching/Writing Fellowsh
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