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The Sandcastle Girls Hardcover

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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • ISBN-10: 0385534809
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385534802
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (850 customer reviews)

More About the Author

Lincoln, Vermont's Chris Bohjalian is the author of 17 books, including ten New York Times bestsellers. His work has been translated into roughly 30 languages and three times become movies.

The paperback of his most recent novel, Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands, will be published this May.

His books have been chosen as Best Books of the Year by the Washington Post, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Hartford Courant, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, Bookpage, and Salon.

His awards include the ANCA Freedom Award for his work educating Americans about the Armenian Genocide; the ANCA Arts and Letters Award for The Sandcastle Girls, as well as the Saint Mesrob Mashdots Medal; the New England Society Book Award for The Night Strangers; the New England Book Award; Russia's Soglasie (Concord) Award for The Sandcastle Girls; a Boston Public Library Literary Light; a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for Trans-Sister Radio; and the Anahid Literary Award. His novel, Midwives, was a number one New York Times bestseller, a selection of Oprah's Book Club, and a New England Booksellers Association Discovery pick. He is a Fellow of the Vermont Academy of Arts and Sciences.

He has written for a wide variety of magazines and newspapers, including the Washington Post, Cosmopolitan, Reader's Digest, and the Boston Globe Sunday Magazine. He has been a weekly columnist in Vermont for the Burlington Free Press since February 1992.

Chris graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Summa Cum Laude from Amherst College, and lives in Vermont with his wife, the photographer Victoria Blewer. Their daughter, Grace Experience, is a young actor in New York City. Among the audiobooks she has narrated is Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

225 of 234 people found the following review helpful By Free2Read on May 29, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Chris Bohjalian seeks out difficult subjects. His novels are unique. His novels are passionate. His novels make the horror of violence in the world a series of human interactions. He does not use gratuitous violence. Instead, he puts forth the truth, offsetting the sickening carnage with characters who are changed and strengthened by bearing witness to man's inhumanity to man.

In "The Sandcastle Girls," Bohjalian takes us to Aleppo in 1915. A young American, Elizabeth Endicott, has come to assist the Armenian League of America with the thousands of refugees pouring into Syria from the genocide in Turkey. The Armenians who arrive are nearly dead. Elizabeth possesses few practical skills, except that she can write a discrete report and she is capable of handling some nursing duties, not flinching at blood or bed pans.

Elizabeth lives somewhat isolated in the American compound. In the city, the orphanage houses wild children who feed off those younger and weaker. The town square fills with women who have walked, now naked, across the desert. They are to be "relocated." No one can be trusted. The officials who say they will help, the quiet readers on a train, the casual guard in the street--danger is everywhere.

From this mind-numbing situation, Elizabeth grows into a new woman. She finds a man she loves. She journeys into primitive conditions to try to help those taken to the desert to die of starvation and the lack of water. She makes a foray into becoming a maternal figure, sheltering one woman and one child from the chaos all around her.

As the narrator says in "The Sandcastle Girls," "How do a million and a half people die with nobody knowing? -- You kill them in the middle of nowhere.
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52 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on July 24, 2012
Format: Hardcover
THE SANDCASTLE GIRLS, Chris Bohjalian's 15th novel, covers a different territory from most of his other books, which usually feature his home state of Vermont. This moving multi-generational saga of an Armenian family is set on multiple continents and encompasses a century of tumultuous change and upheaval both in the world at large and in the lives of its protagonists. Like Bohjalian's previous works, THE SANDCASTLE GIRLS features ordinary, relatable characters caught up in events beyond their control.

Laura Petrosian, an obvious stand-in for the author himself, is a successful fortysomething American novelist in search of her roots, in particular those of her ancestors who fled the Ottoman Empire during the Armenian Genocide at the hands of the Turks. The Armenians know this event as "Meds Yeghern," the Great Catastrophe. Laura's search is prompted by the discovery of a photograph of an emaciated woman in an exhibit of Armenian victims of the ethnic cleansing. She bears Laura's family name, so perhaps she is a relative of some sort. Laura, who has basically tolerated but has not embraced her grandfather's ethnic heritage thus far, is suddenly inspired to learn more about the events that shaped her Armenian ancestors' lives.

The novel travels back and forth in time between Laura's current-day search for her family's history and her American grandmother Elizabeth's introduction to Armenia nearly a century ago.

Twenty-one-year-old Elizabeth Endicott lands in Aleppo in what would become modern-day Syria in 1915 as World War I rages around the globe. She is freshly armed with a degree from Mt.
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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By JGrace VINE VOICE on June 3, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The Sandcastle Girls - Chris Bohjalian
3 stars

Once again, a story with two timelines; contemporary and historical. A twenty-first century novelist begins to explore her Armenian ancestry. Her research leads her to her grandparent's courtship and the Armenian genocide. The story line shifts between the actual events of 1915 and the contemporary discoveries of Laura Petrosian.

The 1915 story line was by far the most interesting. I liked Elizabeth Endicott and the other American characters. Bohjalian approaches the horror of the catastrophe from the perspective of these American relief workers who clearly don't know the extent of the disaster. I could feel their desperation when they began to realize the futility of their efforts. This was a very effective way to disclose the enormity of this crime.

It was so effective that I could not connect to any if the more trivial concerns of the characters. The love story seemed unlikely. The tragic coincidences and devastating secrets added drama to an overdramatic situation. The modern story just annoyed me as it interrupted the wartime narrative.

I wanted to like this book more than I did. It did hold my interest and I learned more about the extent of the Armenian genocide. Unfortunately, I thought the storytelling was choppy. The two plot lines never came together coherently for me. I suspect that my impression of this book suffered because I'd recently read The Garden of Evening Mists. Both books deal with similar themes and situations. Tan Twan Eng did a far better job with multiple time lines and the themes of war and survival.
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