THE SANDCASTLE GIRLS by Chris Bohjalian
Follow Elizabeth, a proper Bostonian who is nursing at Syria’s Aleppo Hospital, and Armen, an Armenian engineer who fights with the British army in the Dardenelles, through 1915. The horror of the deportation of women and children into the Syrian desert after the massacre of the older boys and men in Armenia is explicit.
Nevart, an adult woman, and the child, Hatoun, who have both somehow survived the desert, offer a clear picture of the “poor starving Armenians” my grandparents spoke of when encouraging me to clean my plate. You will learn a great deal about the “slaughter you know next to nothing about” through the eyes of those who survived it and in the context of an engrossing tale that covers death, sorrow, despair, cruelty, charity, kindness, hope and love with a dash of mystery.
The intertwining story of the Armenian family in 2010 Boston is peripheral, yet vital to the plot. Well written, with interesting and clearly drawn characters, this very believable story is true to history as well. Book groups will love Elizabeth, root for Nevart and Hatoun, despair with Armen and be surprised by the end.