Wednesday, March 06, 2013

The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian

The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian
Historical Fiction

Laura Petrosian is a novelist who wants to write the story of her grandparents. One is American-born Elizabeth and the other is Armenian Armen, both of whom were in Syria during the Armenian genocide. Laura researches her grandparent's past through pictures and letters at museums in the USA. She even finds letters between her grandmother and grandfather, which helps form the basis for the novel.

Elizabeth volunteered to travel to Aleppo with her dad as part of a Friends of Armenians mission. The atrocities she sees are unimaginable. She brings a woman and young child back to the American compound, saving them from being marched out to the dessert to either waste away or have their heads cut off as sword practice. She also meets a handsome young Armenian Armen who is trying to find his wife and child though suspects they too have been murdered. He soon gives up and travels to Egypt to enlist and fight against the Turks.

I knew nothing about the Armenian genocide prior to this novel. The way it was presented, it sounds like I'm not the only one. Getting the history lesson on this was very interesting, and the love story during the war read like it could be a true story.

The novel switched back and forth between present day and the past, but this really made things confusing at at the beginning. I think the story could have been told just as well, if not better, without referring to Laura trying to write a novel about her grandparents. This novel was well written and it was easy to connect with the characters.

First Line: "When my twin brother and I were small children, we would take turns sitting in our grandfather's lap."


1 comment:

Cath Brookes said...

I love to read characters who shift and change and stories that twist and turn. I was left with a powerful sense of the importance of doing something, anything, even when the overwhelming tide of events is unstoppable. Important moral life lessons are a result. I thought about this book for weeks after finishing it.
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