Some of My Favorite Books

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian

I love Chris Bohjalian's books, usually. This one, The Sandcastle Girls, was good but I didn't love it. For some reason, I had trouble relating to it and getting into the story. It seemed more like a history lesson in places than a novel. 

This book deals with the little-known (at least to me) Armenian genocide during World War I. Shoot, I didn't even know where Armenia is. (It's a tiny country in Eastern Europe nestled next to Turkey and Iran and Asia). The book mainly takes place in Syria.

The history portion of this book was interesting but like I said, it was totally unknown to me. The terrible killing and marching through the desert of more than 1 million Armenians is horrible to read about but of course necessary for the story.

His writing as women (the two main characters are Elizabeth Endicott in 1915 and Laura Petrosian in 2012) seems a bit off to me. Some of the language in the narrative seems more like what a man would think or say.

I did love this passage near the end of the book:

"In any case, the short answer to that first question--How do a million and a half people die with nobody knowing?--is really very simple. You kill them in the middle of nowhere."
Chris Bohjalian has written 15 books and most are wonderful. I loved Skeletons at the Feast and most all of his other novels. I know that writing this book was a labor of love for him since he is Armenian and he used many facts from his own life story to set the stage. It is a powerful book, just not my favorite of his.
Book Read: The Sandcastle Girls
Author:  Chris Bohjalian
ISBN:   978-0-385-53479-6

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