Kate Reads

The Sandcastle Girls

The Sandcastle Girls - I find it very hard to boil down my judgement of some books to how many stars I would rate them. This is not a book that I either like or don't like. This book is hard. That is not to say it is bad, or not worth the read, but it is not something you should pick up expecting a quick or easy read. I will be 100% honest here and say that I read this book solely because of its Armenian author and setting. I read this because I felt I should read it, not because I necessarily wanted to. This book dealt with a lot all at once. Individually, any one of the atrocities described in the book would be terrible. Together, they make up a terrifying, incomprehensible, almost mind-numbing narrative that is hard to deal with all at once. This is a book that I put down and picked up many times, because sometimes I needed time to absorb the story. The dual story lines, Laura's in the present day, and Elizabeth's almost 100 years earlier, did a little to break up, though not lighten, the story. However, the book was well written, and I didn't feel that there was any exploitation of the terrible events that occurred. To describe anything less than what really happened would do a disservice to the real people who lived through it, in my opinion. This is, at its heart, really a book about history. It is obviously historical fiction, but it also deals with Laura coming to terms with her family history. The end of the book leaves us to make our own conclusions about the history, conclusions about what is "right" and what is "wrong," if those are even two concepts we can apply in this case. It raised more than a few questions in my mind, about the value of discovering our history, or what the effect of unearthing a long kept secret is. Should we seek out our ancestor's history even if we may not be entirely happy with what we find there?This is a story about loss, secrets, happiness and sadness, finding and losing love, and how far a person will go to protect those they love. I read it a month ago and I am still thinking about it- and I do not think that is only because I am Armenian, but because the themes brought up in the book apply to everybody, regardless of ancestry. Obviously one of the events that most stuck with me was Armen's wife's suicide attempt, and the resulting death in the hospital which caused Elizabeth to even have a secret to keep. I first tried to rationalize it by saying she was weak, and couldn't stand to see that he loved another woman. She didn't want to stand up and tell him that she was still alive. But, she survived what had happened up until that point, how could such a person be weak? So, could it have been love for her husband that drove her actions? She saw that he had found happiness and wanted him to have that? Or was it a little of both?