The Sandcastle Girls

The Sandcastle Girls

by Chris Bohjalian
3.8 104


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The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian

When Elizabeth Endicott arrives in Aleppo, Syria, she has a diploma from Mount Holyoke, a crash course in nursing, and only the most basic grasp of the Armenian language. It’s 1915, and Elizabeth has volunteered to help deliver food and medical aid to refugees of the Armenian Genocide during the First World War. There she meets Armen, a young Armenian engineer who has already lost his wife and infant daughter. After leaving Aleppo and traveling into Egypt to join the British Army, he begins to write Elizabeth letters, realizing that he has fallen in love with the wealthy young American.
Years later, their American granddaughter, Laura, embarks on a journey back through her family’s history, uncovering a story of love, loss—and a wrenching secret that has been buried for generations.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307743916
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/16/2013
Series: Vintage Contemporaries Series
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 80,814
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Chris Bohjalian is the critically acclaimed author of fifteen books, including the New York Times bestsellers The Double Bind, The Night Strangers, and Skeletons at the Feast. His novel Midwives was a number one New York Times bestseller and a selection of Oprah’s Book Club. His work has been translated into more than twenty-five languages, and three of his novels have become movies (Secrets of Eden, Midwives, and Past the Bleachers). He lives in Vermont with his wife and daughter.


Lincoln, Vermont

Date of Birth:

August 12, 1961

Place of Birth:

White Plains, New York


Amherst College

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The Sandcastle Girls 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 105 reviews.
kimba88 More than 1 year ago
Inspired by his own family history Bohjalian brings this tale to life through the fictional character Laura Petrosian. She lives in present day America and is seeking information about her Armenian heritage and her late grandparents. Through her, Bohjalian takes us on a journey to Aleppo, Syria in the year 1915. American, Elizabeth Endicott, has just arrived with her father. They have come to assist the Armenian League of America. Thousands of refugees are pouring into Syria to escape the terror. Some are marched in by Turkish soldiers. Mostly woman and children; they are emancipated, naked and burned from the blazing sun. Here Elizabeth, her father and others work to save as many lives as they can. It is also here that Elizabeth will meet Armen. He is an Armenian who survived the onslaught in Aon. His wife wife and daughter are believed to be dead. He is an engineer and is in Aleppo with soldiers working on railroads. The tale that unfolds transports us back and forth as Laura shares the story of what occurred in Aleppo and the grandparents she knew in America. Bohjalian weaves a tale that both opens your eyes to the tragedy the occurred and has you falling in love with the characters he has created. I literally consumed this novel as the tale swept me up. It is one, I will talk about, recommend, and remember forever. The characters while fictional could just as easily have been real as Bohjalian weaves them through this time in history. I liked the narrator Laura. She was honest and feisty and brought such an air of authenticity to this story. She is someone I would like to share a cup of coffee with. Elizabeth while educated, caring and something of a wild child. I adored her and the way she stepped in to help. Armen’s story is touching and I was amazed at how he kept it together. Events revealed to us, shape the man he becomes and the grandfather Laura will come to admire. We met other characters in Aleppo that touched my heart. One in particular a nine year old girl named Hatoun. She survived the desert with the help of Nevert, but not before witnessing the horrific murder of her mother and sister. Karin’s story moved me to unspeakable tears. We meet allies and brave people who helped to get the story out. Bohjalian’s world building was spectacular and eerily surreal. Already a proven artist, it is evident that he poured his heart and soul into these pages. He brings this dark, ominous, evil time in history to life all while shining a light on the good of those who tried to aid the Armenian’s plight. His characters have such depth that I find it hard to believe they didn’t exist. He painstakingly portrayed these horrific atrocities against human life. Even in the darkest corners of my mind I cannot fathom how any human could commit such acts. Please understand that while the events occurring in this novel are dark, the author also brings light and joy into the tale. Through his characters, I laughed, giggled and experienced moments of true joy. The romance that spanned a lifetime was beautiful, bittersweet and left me feeling warm and fuzzy. I highly recommend this thought provoking saga to fans of historical fiction. Anyone who wants to learn more about what historians and politicians covered up for the sake of allies and diplomatic ties should read The Sandcastle Girls. Bohjalian is forever on my auto-buy list and I look forward to his next endeavor. Bravo and well done Chris! I want to thank Knopf Publis
AAA1 More than 1 year ago
It is about time we can read about the Armenian Genocide and see the book listed in the New York Times bestsellers list! I have been reading books by Mr. Bohjalian for years now, and had been waiting for this one! Beautifully written as the story unfolds and captures its audience. I could not put it down. I have bought five copies and given it to my close relatives and friends. Every Armenian should have a copy of this book on their bookshelf to pass down through the generations. Bravo Mr Bohjalian, and thank you!
Karoun More than 1 year ago
Joy, hope, love, death, life... The Sandcastle Girls.... on many occassions, the tragic descriptions of the Armenian refugees barely surviving un-conceivable human suffering perpetrated by the Turkish soliders moved me to tears. Chris Bohjalian keeps the wording simple and with detailed images brings each and everyone to life. I didn't want the book to end. I'll be buying more books during the holidays to give as's a story that is worthy to be read and retold for generations to come!
bookaholique More than 1 year ago
This is one of the most hauntingly beautiful stories I have evry read. It will forever be on my favorites list. Thank you, Mr. Bohjalian, for telling this story. It was obviously written from the heart.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bojahlian on top of his game. Couldn't put it down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Only a writer of consummate skill and imagination can present a story with such delicate balance. Although set among scenes of horrific ugliness, Bohjalian educates us to the real-life horror of the time while still inspiring us with a story of hope and salvation. I predict this book will become required reading in history and English classes. Bohjalian has written many excellent books, but this one is a notch higher than any of his others because of the importance of the topic and the the factual basis.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read The Sandcastle Girls in one day. I am still reeling from it. It is one of those very rare novels that will bombard you with a barrage of emotions and thoughts every time you look at the book on your shelf. I highly recommend it!
Mo-Davies More than 1 year ago
We read this for our Book Group and found it very thought provoking. Few Americans have heard of the Armenian Massacre of 1915 and I hope this book will correct that and cause people to research that piece of history which still comes up today in the EU and UN as Turkey still denies it took place.
LucyNJ More than 1 year ago
An awesome novel (based on historical facts) of human suffering, destruction, carnage, survival, hope, love and new beginnings. Chris Bohjalian is elegant in his narrative, clear in his descriptions and immensely effective and brilliant in the way he weaves between the events of 1915-1916 and the present time. Bravo, Bravo, and bravo!
milonguera04 More than 1 year ago
Slow in the beginning, definitely an eye-opener on this tragic piece of history. I would recommend this more as an educational history ready, rather than fiction and embedded romance. Not a book to lose yourself in and escape into romantic fiction!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was moved beyond words when I finished reading this poignant novel. Thank you Mr. Bohjalian for this unforgettable story, I will carry these characters in my heart as long as I live.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Book was very good. Made you understand the struggle of the Armenians. I feel it is a book one should read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent characters that the reader can relate and thought provoking storyline.
Ruzanna More than 1 year ago
It is a sad story set during the time of the Armenian Genocide. Yet during those disturbing times a beautiful love is formed, which also endures its hardships.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read most of Bohjalian's books. Once again I have learned of an event of which I had no knowledge. Interesting read, but had difficulty keeping the characters straight since it kept bouncing back and forth between eras. Others have been better.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This story takes you in many different directions, but ultimately culminates with everything returning full circle. I recommend doing what I did by highlighting words, dates, phrases, and places and researching them as you read the story. (If you are well versed in Middle Eastern history and culture this might not be necessary.) I was amazed with the depth and strength of all the characters involved. Yes, this story is fictional. However, the Armenian genocide happened and this story gives a glimpse into the horrors the survivors had to endure during that time period.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read the sample, awesome beginning, cant wait to read the rest.
Nannydiver More than 1 year ago
Unbelievlevable sad story of the attempted nialation of a people. Sadly, this was in the late 1800's, but continues today in other parts of the world. Which leaves me to ask, have we learned nothing?
chanelBS More than 1 year ago
I rated this 3 stars because it is well written. I had been aware of Armenian genocide..but, not to this extent. tis book was chosen for our book club; I could not finish it. I found the descriptions of torture more than I could handle.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was recommended to me by a fellow book lover. Once I sat down, there was no putting this book down. I felt so uneducated, I never knew about the Armenian massacre! The story was difficult to read due to the subject matter but the impact on the entire family from the parents' experience was so beautifully told, loved this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked this book very much. I have read other books by Bohjalian and I love the way he writes. But this one was a true revelation to me, knowing nothing about the 1915 genocide of the Armenians. Very well aware of the Holocaust in Germany through my own family's heritage and history I know how important it is to make the world aware of these hateful crimes that continue today. This one, done in the form of a novel with characters we can feel for, including an underlying romance, made it easy to read and stay with. Bravo.
anniemichelle More than 1 year ago
when I think of this book, all that comes to me is Karine. My heart aches for her suffering and yes there were millions but, they are all of them in the end... Karine. This is a heartbreaking story of a genocide I was not familiar with and for that reason alone a miracle and blessing Chris has written about it. This is a story no one should ever forget about, and on that note... This is a story about a young woman in 1915, Elizabeth Endicott who is traveling with her father to Aleppo to assist with the Armenian league of America with the thousands of refugees flooding into Syria from Turkey where a mass genocide is occurring. there are many intertwining stories in this book but the main one is about the love between Elizabeth, Armen and Karine It is in Aleppo that Elizabeth meets Armen, an Armenian engineer who has lost his wife and young daughter in the carnage. They begin tentatively to correspond when Armen goes to Egypt to join the British army and they slowly through their letters fall in love. This story will grab you by the short hairs and not let you go until you are either in tears or at the end of the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonderful book. A masterpiece about the worst tragedy suffered by the Armenian people. Bohjalian´s novel manages to offer a glimpse at the reality of the descendants of the survivors of this massacre. All over the world the Armenian families of the Diaspora keep the terrible stories of their slaughtered relatives.
JmbJB More than 1 year ago
Could not put it down. Wonderful read about a subject we all need to know more about
bonitatibus More than 1 year ago
Horrifying events, ... which I know the author isn't making up, as I have read other accounts of these events. While this is fiction, the author made the actual events very readable. He put a human side to the events of 1915 that has not been analyzed/evaluated as other "20th century wars" have been. The author's use of the technique of changing time periods - from 1915 to the present and back - was done very well. It allowed for the beginning of a much needed examination/analysis of these events and not just the Turkish view - nothing happened except "civil disobedience" and it is all "ancient history." In addition, what I had to keep reminding myself was that the author was not the female narrator in the novel - when writing in the present with all the detail and description. As another reviewer wrote - he hit the mark on being able to "inhabit the female mind and accurately depict his characters' inner lives is amazing." Thank you.