Connie's Reviews > The Sandcastle Girls

The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian
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May 01, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: historical-fiction, syria, war, world-war-i, turkey, book-club, fall-2015, middle-east

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

May 1, 2012 – Shelved
May 1, 2012 – Shelved as: historical-fiction
June 28, 2014 – Shelved as: syria
April 7, 2015 – Shelved as: war
April 7, 2015 – Shelved as: world-war-i
April 8, 2015 – Shelved as: turkey
September 28, 2015 – Started Reading
September 28, 2015 – Shelved as: book-club
October 8, 2015 – Finished Reading
October 14, 2015 – Shelved as: fall-2015
December 27, 2015 – Shelved as: middle-east

Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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message 1: by Dolors (new)

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.


message 3: by Judy (new)

Judy This sounds like a powerful novel - I will look out for it.


Connie Judy wrote: "This sounds like a powerful novel - I will look out for it."

It was heartbreaking in some parts, but I'm glad I read it.


message 5: by Crumb (new) - added it

Crumb Great review, Connie. This looks like a powerful book.. will definitely try to fit this one in soon.


Connie Crumb wrote: "Great review, Connie. This looks like a powerful book.. will definitely try to fit this one in soon."

Thanks, Crumb. I learned a lot about this sad period in history.


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