Connie's Reviews > The Sandcastle Girls

The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian
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Dec 27, 2015

really liked it
bookshelves: historical-fiction, syria, war, world-war-i, turkey, book-club, fall-2015, middle-east
Read from September 28 to October 08, 2015

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 the Turks who feared that the Armenians would support the Russians in the war. Elizabeth and other humanitarian aid workers try to help the starving, exhausted survivors, but they had few resources for the masses of people. Elizabeth meets Armen Petrosian, an Armenian engineer who lost his family. Armen and Elizabeth are separated when he fights at Gallipoli, but they remain connected through their letters. Armen's friends, two German engineers, photograph the Armenian prisoners, hoping to smuggle out the evidence of the atrocities.

In the contemporary thread, a writer's interest in her Armenian heritage is sparked when her grandmother's picture is featured in an exhibit at the Armenian Museum. She reads her grandmother's letters and diary to find out the horrible events that her grandparents never discussed.

The characters in Aleppo were compelling and real. The romantic couple, the orphaned children, and the aid workers were all characters the reader could care about. The present day characters were not as well developed, but it's only right that the spotlight should be on the victims of the genocide and the humanitarian workers. Although a few parts of the book have graphic descriptions of the dead and dying, it's important that we know about the horrific events in history.
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Reading Progress

09/28/2015 marked as: currently-reading
10/08/2015 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Dolors (new) - added it

Dolors Gosh, what a timely review, which regretfully echoes the turmoil of the current war in Syria. I had never heard of this writer, thanks once more for bringing him to my attention, Connie.


Connie Dolors wrote: "Gosh, what a timely review, which regretfully echoes the turmoil of the current war in Syria. I had never heard of this writer, thanks once more for bringing him to my attention, Connie."

Chris Bohjalian is a popular author in the United States, Dolors. Most of his books are set in Vermont and New Hampshire. He's probably best known for Midwives.


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