With most novels, I often find myself slogging though the first few chapters. So few books grab my interest right away. Not this time. The Sandcastle Girls really hits the ground running. I was hooked by the end of the first page.
It’s a love story against the backdrop of WWI and the Armenian genocide of 1915, a barbaric event I’m ashamed to admit, even as a scholar of history, I wasn’t even aware happened. I recalled that the Ottoman Turks fought against us in World War I, and they were kind of douchey. I was also familiar with the military disaster for the Australian army at Galliopli, although my knowledge if that campaign came less from school, and more from the movie staring Mel Gibson. Remember circa 1980s Mel Gibson? It’s hard to believe he was once a young, sexy, leading man, instead of an old, wife beating, anti-semitic lunatic? Those were simpler times.
But I digress.
I didn’t know about this gruesome genocide, but as the author points out, it’s not well known at all. Unlike the holocaust, this happened quietly, in the middle of the desert, while the rest of the world was preoccupied with the great war. To add insult to injury, to this day, it’s not even recognized as a genocide by many governments – despite the fact that the term was coined as a result of the atrocity.
This wasn’t an easy book to read. Some of the descriptions of senseless cruelty and human suffering are hard to stomach. I couldn’t put it down though. It was so easy to get lost in this compelling story, while trying to make sense of the evil that lurks within mankind.