Betsy's Reviews > Gardens of Water

Gardens of Water by Alan Drew
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Jan 10, 2009

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Read in January, 2009

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.


The narrative seemed to meander in opposing directions near the end of the book after Irem has taken her life. Sinan's reactions veer from wanting to murder Dylan for raping his daughter, Dylan's father Marcus for trying to convert his impressionable young son Ismail, and stealing from his employer which he is somehow able to justify even though he's been portrayed as a devout, if flawed man. I think the subtext of the Americans trying to convert the Turkish refugees was unnecessary to the telling of the story and wished it had focussed more on the Romeo & Juliet story. We never get to see Dylan's perspective at all. Why would he want to be involved with Irem when he could surround himself with wealthy Turkish girls who were more Westernized? He seemed to genuinely like Irem so it's hard to reconcile this with his later, rather callous behavior towards her. His character was two-dimensional and his motivations are unclear. His father, Marcus seems at first to not be interested in trying to convert the Muslim children and understanding of Sinan's anger over the other missionaries' behavior but later we find out that he has, in fact, been giving Ismail Christian pamphlets.
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