Lisa Says… Read This Book by Chris Bohjalian

By Lisa Hamilton

The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian
The Sandcastle Girls
by Chris Bohjalian

I liked Chris Bohjalian’s books, Midwives and The Double Bind and thoroughly enjoyed his latest, The Sandcastle Girls. Inspired by his grandparents’ background, this novel explores the suffering of the Armenian genocide of 1915 during the First World War and brings us to Bronxville, New York, in 2012. Bohjalian weaves this story from past to present, unfolding a family history of love, loss and secrets buried for a generation.

A wealthy Bostonian travels with his daughter, Elizabeth, to Syria, as members of an organization called Friends of Armenia, to deliver food and medical supplies to the refugees of the Armenian genocide. With a diploma from Mount Holyoke College and a crash course in nursing, Elizabeth begins a journey that will change her life. She meets a young Armenian engineer who is looking for his wife and daughter, and they begin a friendship that develops into a romance in spite of the times and the distances they will share. In the present time, Laura Petrosian is a novelist living in the suburbs of New York, who is called upon by an old college friend who thinks she sees photos of Laura’s family on display at a museum near Boston. As Laura begins her journey through the past into lives she knew so little about, her family’s history is uncovered with gruesome truths and riveting information.

The history lessons I remember in high school and college never touched on the destruction and devastation that occurred during the outset of World War I to the people of Armenia. Chris Bohjalian has written not only a heart breaking account of the horrors of these people, but a beautiful story that is extremely personal to him as well. The Sandcastle Girls is a story of hope and survival, one that may make you cry, one that will definitely make you smile.

About this writer

  • Lisa Hamilton A native South Carolinian, Lisa Hamilton is the director of the First Presbyterian Church Preschool and Kindergarten. Of course she loves reading, but also finds time for cooking and walking her dog, Hurley.

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