Lynn Jarrett's Reviews > The Sandcastle Girls

The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian
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's review
Oct 02, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: books-by-favorite-authors
Read in September, 2012

When I first learned I had won a copy of "The Sandcastle Girls" by Chris Bohjalian from, I was excited. I had previously read "The Night Strangers" just as soon as it came out and enjoyed it even though scary books are not quite my genre.

Before reading this book, I was totally unaware of the political situation for Armenians in the early 1900s in and around Aleppo, Syria. How did I miss that during history class in school? I asked my husband about the massacre. He was aware of it. Why did I not know of it? I kept pondering that thought as I began reading the book.

I started reading "The Sandcastle Girls" as soon as I received it. Reading the information about the book on the book jacket, I knew immediately that this was a special book for Bohjalian. I also knew I was in for a special journey with him and it might not be the journey I anticipated in the beginning. I have read 6 of Bohjalian's 15 books and this by far was the most memorable.

I definitely was not prepared for the horrendous murders of women and children that took place on the trek to Aleppo. I could not believe the state of the travelers’ health and how some were still able to drudge onward even though they had not eaten in days and had very little water to drink. Bohjalian describes how the faces of the women have shrunken so terribly bad that a young woman took on the appearance of an old lady.

One of the most memorable moments in the book for me was on page 59 where Hatoun (a young child) was sitting on the ground with her back "ramrod perfect" against the tree trunk. At another small tree close by, her doll, Annika, is sitting against the tree in the same position as Hatoun with one difference -- Hatoun has torn Annika's head from her cloth body and placed the head on the ground next to the body with the doll's eyes turned to the sky. You just know that Hatoun is remembering her mother sitting against a stake in the ground just moments before her mother's head was slashed off by mounted soldiers making the murder of her and other women a grotesque game of polo.

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about the Armenian genocide that took place in early 1900s. I would also forewarn the reader that some of the parts of the book are so vivid and heart-wrenching that it is almost overwhelming at times.

All in all, Bohjalian has once again brought his name back into the limelight where I believe it will stay for a long time.

Note: I was provided a copy of "The Sandcastle Girls" free by
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