Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Sandcastle Girls; Chris Bohjalian


Author:  Chris Bohjalian
Publication Year: 2012
Publisher: Doubleday
Edition: eGalley
Setting: Boston, New York, Syria, Armenia
Source: NetGalley and Edelweiss
Date Completed: August/2012
Rating: 4/5
Recommend:  yes with reservations


Chris Bohjalian's latest novel, his 15th, is a departure from much of what he has written in the past. While the story is a good one, I found it very depressing as well.  The novel deals with the Turkish-Armenian conflict, or should I say, the genocide of 1.5 million Armenians by the Turks. Interestingly, the author is Armenian and bases this novel on the experiences of his grandparents some 100 years earlier.

In this story, Laura Petrosian sees a picture of her grandmother Elizabeth, now deceased, which links her to a museum exhibit in Boston. Curious, this leads Laura to do some genealogical research about her grandparents who she knows very little about.  She becomes somewhat obsession, when she learns that her grandmother and Armen met and fell in love, as a result of the Armenian genocide.  Elizabeth and her father Silas were part of a relief group, Friends of Armenia,  a group which brought food and supplies in 1915, from Boston to survivors of the massacre.

Although the story is an important one, I found it painful to read at times, and was left feeling just too sad and uncomfortable at times. The writing is excellent and story flows well from past to present. I have read all of Bohjalian's earlier books, he is a favorite author, but his latest book, although well written and researched, gets a "proceed with caution" rating from me -- it's graphic so if you plan to read it, be prepared to read about the horrors of war. 

20 comments:

  1. I haven't read this, but I agree overall that a book needs to have some sort of hope in it, rather than these are the stark realities of what happened. I probably wouldn't enjoy this one.

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  2. Books like this can be difficult to read but I think it's important we never forget events like that. I plan to read this one of these days.

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  3. I want to read this book but I think I need to wait for a time when I'm in the mood for a serious book. I think it's important to read books like this but you're totally right; it can be so hard!

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  4. I've read a few books about war that were uncomfortable to read. Sorry this was one of those for you.

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  5. Painful doesn't sound like fun!

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  6. I have seen similar comments about the graphic & sad nature of this book in various reviews, so I was curious to see what you thought. I have pretty much decided to skip this one, but I will keep an open mind about the author's other books since you have praised them so highly.

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  7. I need to get to this one. I've had it on the shelf and been dying to get to it for the WWI reading challenge.

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  8. I totally relate to your comment: "Although the story is an important one, I found it painful to read at times, and was left feeling just too sad and uncomfortable at times. " So many books are like that. Usually I have to be forced or tricked into reading them! And while I never regret it, it takes me a long time to get over those kinds of books!

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  9. I haven't read a Bohjalian book but I do have this one on my kindle from netgalley. I don't mind books that address powerful or disturbing themes but it's good to have a heads up before starting.

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  10. I think the title is a bit misleading … I was thinking it was about girls who met as children on a beach.

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  11. Stories about the Armenian Genocide would be particularly difficult for me to read as this affected some of my relatives. I'm sure that Chris Bohjalian does an excellent job though.

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  12. I have yet to read any of Bohjalian's work, although I own Skeletons at the

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    1. Feast. I think I'm afraid of the horrors of which he writes (from what I can gather.)

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  13. Although graphic, I think this sounds like a book I will enjoy. This is an underreported tragedy and I'd like to know more about it.

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  14. Despite the fact that it is graphic, I am interested in reading this book.

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  15. It sounds like a very important and powerful book. Thanks for the review.

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  16. Sounds like one that, although painful, has an important message. I've read a number of books that had points where I wanted to read on but was afraid to; sounds like this is one of those. I'm never sure in the end if I liked it. I suppose it's good, sometimes, for authors to make us uncomfortable. But I do appreciate the warning going into it.

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  17. thanks for the heads up on this one. I love this author and hopefully I will get to this book!!

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  18. He's been doing a really great job of promoting the book. I see it everywhere and his readers are all over FB chatting about it.

    I haven't picked it up yet. I know it's a very serious and at times, heavy topic so I have to find just the right moment to read it.

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  19. I definitely want to read this one, though I know it's going to be hard to read. I read a little about the Armenian genocide in The Gendarme, and I was horrified.

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