Monday, November 5, 2012

The Sandcastle Girls

This book was released last summer, but it is not a summer beach read kind of book.  The sand referred to in this book lies in Syria. It is not just in the present that there was blood drenched sand in Syria.  The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohialian is set in 1915 as well as the current day as the narrator tells her own tale as an Armenian growing up in the United States while sharing the details of how her Armenian family came to dwell here in the first place.  Her discovery of the horrendous burdens suffered by her ancestors mirrors that of the author who is also Armenian.

Our world has a history of mass destruction being leveled upon people because of their ethnicity.  The Armenian Genocide perpetuated by Turkey may be one of the lesser known genocides but it is just as horrific.  The first wave occurred in the 1890's and by 1915, 1.5 million Christian Armenians had lost their lives, with many of the women and children being marched to their deaths through the sands of Syria to Aleppo.  The United States has yet to formally denounce or sanction Turkey for their actions.  So much for human rights.

This book may have saddened me, but it is beautifully written and is also character driven as well as historically derived.  Boston Brahmins are drawn to Aleppo to provide help and relief.  One falls in love with an Armenian engineer who because of his skills has joined the Germans in railroad building after escaping his own death.  He is in Aleppo hoping against all hope to find out what happened to his wife and daughter as the refugees straggle into Aleppo.  There is a plot twist that totally took me by surprise.  These are main characters that you can cheer for and several are based on real people in real circumstances.  Chris Bohialian has had several of his books made into movies.  The Sandcastle Girls may be next.


Kirste Harrison said...

Books like these are exactly what I like to read. There's no better way to learn, if you ask me. Textbooks have a tendency to divorce the hearts and minds of the people from the things they do, and I think that is a big mistake.

I will definitely add this to my reading list. Thanks for sharing!

Susan said...

I'm a longtime Chris Bohjalian fan, although I haven't read this one yet. Thanks for the reminder to pick up his newest books!