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The Sandcastle Girls

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3.87  ·  Rating details ·  29,726 Ratings  ·  4,291 Reviews
Over the course of his career, New York Times bestselling novelist Chris Bohjalian has taken readers on a spectacular array of journeys. Midwives brought us to an isolated Vermont farmhouse on an icy winter’s night and a home birth gone tragically wrong. The Double Bind perfectly conjured the Roaring Twenties on Long Island—and a young social worker’s descent into madness. ...more
ebook, 304 pages
Published July 17th 2012 by Vintage (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?
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Candi
Nov 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"How do a million and a half people die with nobody knowing? … You kill them in the middle of nowhere."

In 1915, amid the turmoil of the First World War, a million and half civilians including women and children perished during the Armenian genocide. Many were executed and others died a slow, painful death as they were forced to march from their villages in the Ottoman Empire through the harsh and unforgiving Syrian desert. Either I slept through history class or this horrific event was simply no
...more
Pam
Feb 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
WOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOW!

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
...more
Melissa
May 16, 2012 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
...more
Michael
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
Dem
Jul 17, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: recommended, war
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
...more
Connie
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
...more
Rachel
Jun 26, 2012 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
...more
Britany
May 24, 2012 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
...more
Tania
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
Dan Radovich
Mar 25, 2012 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.
Barbara
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
...more
Connie
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
...more
Chrissie
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
...more
Diane S ☔
Mar 22, 2012 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
Lou
May 24, 2012 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
...more
Melodie
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
...more
B the BookAddict
Sep 11, 2013 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 ...more
Elyse
Jun 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Magnificent-Wonderful!

Ambitious subject --I admire the courage and compassionate work it must have taken for the author to write this book: absolutely extraordinary! Only a talented writer could have created an historical fiction --and have it be as enjoyable as this book is (it spite of the profound powerful vital seriousness of the subject).

The writing is breathtaking -- elegantly constructed. I found myself slowing down to savor sentences even as the story had me impatient to turn the next
...more
Tracey
May 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow.

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
...more
Sheri
Jul 30, 2012 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
...more
Angela
Jul 17, 2012 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
JoAnne Pulcino
THE SANDCASTLE GIRLS

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
...more
☮Karen
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
Laura
Sep 17, 2015 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.
Marla
Nov 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
This was a little hard to follow along as an audiobook as it switched between two points of view but didn't give you any warning it was happening. I think audiobooks should be read slightly different with giving warnings when the POV switches. Other than that this is a beautifully written story.
Pamela
A most excellent book club selection. It is also this year's ONE BOOK, ONE SAN DIEGO selection. Much to discuss and historically profoundly relevant. But oh so horribly heartbreaking and extremely gruesome.

NOT a good selection for readers sensitive to: extreme graphic violence; sexual/deviant crimes -especially against women and children; and/or those who suffer with PTSD. This book, though important, needing to be made known the crimes of the Ottoman Empire against Christians. But let me just
...more
Elizabeth A
Jun 02, 2012 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
...more
Vahan Zanoyan
Mar 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A masterfully crafted book. More consequential than any thriller.
Donna Antaramian
“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
...more
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Grinnell's Reader...: Book Questions: Sandcastle Girls 1 14 Feb 20, 2017 11:17AM  
Retro Chapter Chi...: November 2016: The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian 37 16 Nov 22, 2016 06:57PM  
Elizabeth's secret 10 210 Oct 26, 2016 01:28PM  
Winona Public Lib...: September 2015 Book Discussion Meeting 1 14 Aug 10, 2015 12:16PM  
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Follow Chris Bohjalian on Goodreads to see what's on the nightstand!

Chris is the New York Times bestselling author of 20 books. Chris's work has been translated into over 30 languages and three times become movies ("Midwives," "Secrets of Eden," and "Past the Bleachers.")

The paperback of "The Sleepwalker" arrives October 3.

"The Flight Attendant" lands March 13, 2018.

Chris's books have been chosen
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More about 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?” 44 likes
“When it seems you have nothing at all to live for, death is not especially frightening.” 29 likes
More quotes…