Friday, July 19, 2013

Sandcastle Girls: Book Review

Chris Bohjalian
The Sandcastle Girls

Complimentary copy from publicist.

Chris Bohjalian seems to be spreading his wings in other genres lately.
From ghost stories, to historical fiction.  The Sandcastle Girls, is his novel that is very personal, and close to his heart, his Armenian heritage.  Since Mr. Bohjalian has written The Sandcastle Girls, he has become the spokesperson for Armenian Genocide at conferences, in Washington D.C., etc.

I did enjoy his earlier novels, the first comes to mind is Midwives. I loved his novels that had to do with social discussion. Those novels were jumping off points for discussion.

Unfortunately, Sandcastle Girls I did not connect to the character.  The story was interesting at certain points, and drew me in. But, then I would disconnect. I did not like the third person narrative, or the romance it was too predictable.

 But, the historical background I did enjoy reading.We were getting a history lesson through fiction. That is my favorite part. The Turkish Government wanted to wipe out of existence the Christian Armenians

. I wanted to love Sandcastle Girls but unfortunately that did not happen for me.
I liked the premise of the story, does are ancestral past help our lives of today to connect with our history?

As I was reading Sandcastle Girls, I was thinking about my own heritage, The Holocaust.  The atrocities are similar, and hard to swallow and take, and absorb at the same time.  The only difference, was there was not a Hitler, instead a Turkish dictator trying to wipe out the Christian Armenians.  I did not realize the Armenian Genocide was just as bad, or close to. As I was reading even though I knew the history, I did my own research like I always do.

 I don't want to compare because the holocaust killed more people. But both governments at the time was able to get away with it?  Was there any justice for the Armenian people? Did Hitler copy the Turkish government? I never thought about it.  Because this happened 20 years before. I was just wondering if Hitler was aware of this? Is this where he got his fanatical ideas? What I do understand the Turkish government still denies this.

I may not be fair at this time reviewing this novel. I came off a gorgeous literary ride, with The Golem and the Jenni.  Nothing can compare to that novel. I possibly having a hard time reading anything after reading that.

It is ironic that I did pick reading this right after, The Golem and the Jenni. Where that story takes place with Jewish immigrants, and Syrian descendents.  Which The Sandcastle Girls takes place in Syria. I did not realize this at the time.  I had decided to pick any Chris Bohjalian novel that was handy to review.  Because I had a conversation with Chris, and he asked me if I started The Light of the Ruins. I couldn't find the galley, but found his other, Sandcastle Girls.

The Sandcastle Girls, takes place during WW1. It is the story of Elizabeth Endicott, a missionary from Boston.  She graduated from Holyoke College. She has some formal training as a nurse. She decides to travel to Syria in 1915. To help in the cause delivering medical supplies, and giving medical care to the sick to the Armenian Genocide.. She meets Armen, a engineer, that has lost his family.  He then travels to Egypt during the correspondence with letters they fall in love.  Then fast forward to present day, we meet Laura. The grand daughter of Elizabeth. She doesn't care about her Armenian past until one day a friend tells her she has seen a picture of her grandmother.

I would love to hear your comments. Let me know if you loved it, hated it? What did you think of the book. If you are Armenian did you know about this part of history.


Melissa McCurdy said...

This was a huge let down for the point that I don't even want to consider reading his newest book.

Patti Hall said...

I am just about to begin Sandcastle Girls. Even if it lets me down, I will always read him again, has because of what he has given us before. Will try to remember to get back here to comment when I am done with this book.