by Chris Bohjalian
Grade Level: Tenth Grade to Adult
In The Sandcastle Girls, Bohjalian creates an intergenerational tale firmly founded in the history of the Armenian Genocide. His characters take the reader back in time to Syria, and he recreates with astounding detail the tragedies faced by the Armenian people during the first modern genocide of the twentieth century.
Elizabeth Endicott, a young nurse, travels to Aleppo, Syria in 1915, as a volunteer helping to provide food and medical attention to refugees of the Armenian Genocide. Elizabeth becomes friends with a young Armenian man, Armen, whose wife and infant daughter have been killed in the genocide. Armen joins the British army, but begins to write letters to Elizabeth, realizing his love for her. The novel also tells the present day story of New York novelist, Laura Petrosian, who hasn’t thought much about her Armenian heritage until learning of a newspaper photo of her grandmother. This leads Laura to investigate her family history, where she finds love, great loss, and a long-buried secret.
From The Associated Press:
“It takes a talented novelist to combine fully ripened characters, an engrossing storyline, exquisite prose and set it against a horrific historical backdrop—in this case, the Armenian Genocide—and completely enchant readers. The prolific and captivating Chris Bohjalian has done it all with The Sandcastle Girls.”