New Book to Read: Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian

You have probably heard the buzz about Sandcastle Girls already. It was picked as an Oprah Book of the Week in July and I do really like her book picks. When I first picked up Midwives, (perhaps Bohjalian’s best known book, an Oprah Book Club pick, back in the day) my timing couldn’t have been worse. It was winter and I was pregnant and while I didn’t live in a rustic Vermont town, I had to skip a huge part of the book. I basically took a peek ahead (something I do now) and pinched about an inch of pages and then read on from there. Try doing that with an ereader.

So on to Sandcastle Girls. As in all of Bohjalian’s books, the characters are fully drawn and engaging, the writing is beautiful, and the story is compelling – what a pure delight to read! And while I did know about the Armenian Genocide, I had not read about it in any detail and some of the details are horrific. That said, this is a story about love, character and hope for the future.

In short: The lives of Elizabeth Endicott (a Mount Holyoke graduate from a wealthy New England family who travels to Aleppo on behalf of the Friends of Armenia) and Armen Petrosian (an Armenian engineer, a husband and father who had been searching for his family) who meet and fall in love in Syria during the Armenian genocide (1914) is one part of the story. The other part of the story is set in the present day with Elizabeth and Armen’s adult granddaughter, Laura Petrosian, a writer, who finds herself on a search about her grandparents’ rarely discussed early lives. Laura discovers a long buried secret and her family’s story is forever changed.

Good reviews about this book abound and all of them are more well-written than what I can manage. But my two cents? Read this book. Why? It is an eye-opening look into a difficult part of history that should be better known. It is also a love story and it is so beautifully written that even the difficult passages (there are a few that made me put the book down for a few minutes) are so artfully drawn that you want to continue reading. I wandered around with this book, taking it from car to house (sometimes I wait places for people).


Thanks to Jess of Don’t Mind the Mess for providing me with a copy of The Sandcastle Girls. I look forward to more great books – Check out Red Letter Reads (Jessica’s new site) for the best new reads. She is currently looking for readers and the hottest new book releases. Send her and email at redletterreads@gmail.com

2 comments to New Book to Read: Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian

  • I love how he illuminates this period in history. I didn’t know about the Armenian genocide, either, and I’m sure a great part of his goal in writing the book was to humanize this forgotten tragedy.

    It’s so difficult to write a novel which cuts back and forth in time, because the reader often likes one of the two time periods better, and may feel cheated when switched away from it. With this book, I preferred the historical characters to the contemporary ones.

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