Stephen Kiernan's Reviews > The Sandcastle Girls

The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian
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Jul 25, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: to-read

I've read 13 of Chris Bohjalian's books and this is definitely one of the most moving, most vivid, most compelling. On a par with Midwives and Skeletons at the Feast, The Sandcastle Girls tells the mostly unknown story of the Armenian genocide through the experiences of a small cast of characters and their harrowing, and sometimes triumphant, stories.

Love is at the center of this book more than in any other Bohjalian novel, its power and its fragility in a violent world. But the details are what make it sing. You will feel the desert heat. You will see the exhausted refugees. You will root for people who have precious little hope -- orphans, sympathetic soldiers, diplomats doing the best they can, battered survivors, and above all the young lovers. You will share in the sadness of dreams destroyed, and in the joyouse relief of people separated by war but who manage eventually to reunite.

Chris uses a clever storytelling device that gives the genocide context and geopolitical significance, by having a narrator from present time research all that went on in 1915. But this is a framework primarily, educating the reader so that the individual stories have a greater resonance.

It works. You learn at the same time you are moved.

I highly, highly recommend this novel. It deserves a massive audience. The story will continue in your head long after the last page.
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Quotes Stephen Liked

Chris Bohjalian
“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?”
Chris Bohjalian, The Sandcastle Girls


Reading Progress

08/25 marked as: to-read

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