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In a small village outside Istanbul, Sinan, a struggling Kurdish grocer, hears
an odd and ominous rumbling. In the rush of destruction that follows, his
first thought is for his young son, buried beneath the earthquake's debris --
then for his wife and daughter. It is an impulse that will torment him for
years to come.
Gardens of Water is a stunning and inspiring debut. At its center are
two families, and the complexities of culture and faith that divide them.
Sinan's 15-year-old daughter, Irem, dreams of escaping the drudgery
tradition expects of her and finds refuge and hope in Dylan, the 19-year-old
son of American missionaries. As their love develops through chance
encounters and furtive meetings, Sinan is forced to make decisions both
tragic and inevitable. His inexorable journey to the ultimate betrayal is
one, as a father, he could never have imagined.
The regrets of age and the passion of youth, the bond between father
and daughter, the desire for a different life, the desperate longing to
honor tradition while finding a small measure of happiness outside it --
these are the themes around which Drew has fashioned his unforgettable
novel. Raw, emotional, and superbly told, Gardens of Water illuminates
much more than the differences that divide us; it immerses us in the common
ground we all share.
(Spring 2008 Selection)
Drew is an American who spent three years as a teacher in Istanbul, where he witnessed the earthquake he describes so well. Making deft use of this background, he has constructed a novel in which disastrous aftershocks rumble all the way through to a tragic denouement. Sensitive and thought-provoking, Gardens of Water is set in a perfectly realized Istanbul, a city where traditionalism and modernity grind together like the fragments of a collapsing building.
The New York Times
In Drew's well-intentioned if overwrought first novel, cultures clash as a teenaged Kurdish girl and an American boy fall in love over the objection of the girl's father, a Muslim Kurd living in Istanbul. Sinan, a shop owner, tries to keep his American upstairs neighbors, Marcus Hamm and his family, at arm's length. But this is impossible after an earthquake devastates Istanbul, and Sinan and his family end up living in a tent city provided by American missionaries. Marcus, the director of a missionary school, lost his wife in the earthquake; she was found dead, shielding Sinan's son, who was buried alive for three days before being rescued. Now, Sinan watches as his America-obsessed daughter, Irem, falls in love with Marcus's bipolar son, Dylan, and his impressionable younger son, Ismail, slowly becomes converted to Christianity at the camp. The story moves inexorably toward a climax in which Sinan's Muslim pride and Marcus's Christian proselytizing collide with predictably tragic results. Though some may find the ideological conflict that provides the narrative thrust too textbookish, Drew, who lived in Istanbul at the time of the Marmara earthquake, effortlessly transports readers to a wrecked Istanbul and finds shards of hope in the mountains of rubble. (Feb.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
This first novel explores the interactions between two families, one Muslim and the other Christian, in an Istanbul suburb during the earthquake that struck Turkey in 1999. Sinan Basioglu fears the influence of his Christian neighbors, Marcus and Sarah Roberts and their son Dylan, on his son Ismail and daughter Irem. He tries to minimize contact with them, but the earthquake binds the two families together. Ismail is buried in the rubble for hours and presumed dead. He survives miraculously when Sarah Roberts sacrifices her life to let him live. Now indebted to Marcus, the Basioglus are also homeless and forced to stay in the refugee camp he runs. Irem is increasingly drawn toward Dylan, Ismail to Christianity, and the novel quickly builds to its tragic conclusion. Drew occasionally descends into melodrama but in general has produced a fast-paced and well-written narrative, one that convincingly explores the tensions between Islam and Christianity and the seismic cultural shifts that can result from natural disasters. Recommended for larger academic and public libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ10/1/07.]
Adult/High School -Set in a small town outside Istanbul after the 1999 earthquake, this remarkable debut novel chronicles the complex relationships within and between American and Kurdish families. United by the illicit romance of Dylan, 17, and Irem, 15, two families cope with the losses presented by the quake and the challenges created by their cultural differences. Dylana€™s father is one of the Christian Americans providing aid in the camp where Irema€™s family has taken refuge. Her father, Sinan, must spend hours away from home working to support his family while also fighting to preserve their values amid incompatible cultural influences. As the relationship between Dylan and Irem develops, Sinana€™s inner struggle between love and honor escalates, causing him to make a devastating decision that will end in tragedy for both families. The power and brilliance of this book lie in the skillfully crafted levels of the plot. Readers will find themselves engaged in Sinana€™s fight to hold his family together while empathizing with Irema€™s desire to redefine herself outside of her conservative Muslim heritage. At the same time, they will be engrossed in the emerging romance while also questioning the motives of the American aid workers in the camp. Sophisticated teens will be further rewarded with the exploration of changing cultural, political, and religious boundaries. This novel will generate a variety of interesting classroom and book club discussions.-Lynn Rashid, Marriots Ridge High School, Marriotsville, MD
“Fascinating . . . a remarkable first novel [of] people struggling to define themselves in a world that seems against them.”
“A real triumph . . . Alan Drew explores, with respect and understanding, clashes between cultures, faiths, and generations. In the end, we find ourselves feeling close to the characters and their world, as it is the very world in which we live.”
–Yiyun Li, author of The Vagrants
“Sensitive and thought-provoking, Gardens of Water is set in a perfectly realized Istanbul, a city where traditionalism and modernity grind together like the fragments of a collapsing building.”
–The New York Times Book Review
“A penetrating, tightly focused novel that balances the sweetness of youth and the brooding anxieties of parenthood with a robust understanding of the Muslim-Westerner encounter.”
–Leila Aboulela, author of The Translator