best tracker Skip to main content

If you’re looking for a powerful and emotional audiobook experience, look no further than “The Sandcastle Girls” by Chris Bohjalian. This historical fiction novel is a hauntingly beautiful tale that explores love, loss, and the impact of the Armenian Genocide on individuals.

In this review, we’ll take a closer look at “The Sandcastle Girls” and evaluate its strengths and weaknesses as an audiobook. We’ll also examine Chris Bohjalian’s writing style, the key themes explored in the novel, and the critical reception it has received.

Key Takeaways:

  • “The Sandcastle Girls” is a powerful and emotional historical fiction audiobook.
  • Chris Bohjalian’s writing style is notable for its beautiful prose and careful pacing.
  • The novel explores themes of love, loss, and the impact of historical events on individuals.
  • The audiobook narration is of high quality, with skilled voice acting and excellent pacing.
  • “The Sandcastle Girls” received positive critical reviews and is a must-read for historical fiction fans.

About the Author

Chris Bohjalian is a critically acclaimed author known for his works in contemporary and historical fiction. Born in 1960 in White Plains, New York, Bohjalian grew up in a household that encouraged reading and storytelling. He graduated from Amherst College and worked as an account executive in advertising before becoming a full-time writer.

Bohjalian has authored over twenty novels, many of which have become New York Times bestsellers. His notable works include “Midwives,” “The Flight Attendant,” and “Secrets of Eden.” Bohjalian’s writing style is praised for its ability to blend compelling narratives with critical social issues. He is known for his attention to detail and extensive research, particularly in historical fiction.

“Bohjalian’s storytelling makes the unimaginable so chillingly vivid that readers will swear the characters in The Sandcastle Girls must exist” – Caroline Leavitt

Plot Summary

Set against the backdrop of the Armenian Genocide, “The Sandcastle Girls” follows Elizabeth Endicott, a young American woman who travels to the Middle East to assist refugees in the aftermath of World War I. While there, she meets Armenian engineer Armen Petrosian, and the two fall in love as they work together to aid those affected by the genocide. The novel alternates between Elizabeth’s story and that of her granddaughter, Laura, who travels to Armenia to uncover her family’s past and learn about the tragedy that shaped their legacy. Through both women’s journeys, the novel explores themes of love, loss, and the impact of historical events on individuals.

Historical Context

“The Sandcastle Girls” is heavily influenced by the historical context of the Armenian Genocide. This was a period of mass killings and forced migrations of Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire during World War I. In an effort to create a purely Turkish state, the Ottoman government deported and massacred hundreds of thousands of Armenians. This historical event serves as the backdrop for “The Sandcastle Girls,” and Chris Bohjalian weaves in real-life details and experiences into his storytelling.

The portrayal of the Armenian Genocide in “The Sandcastle Girls” is not only historically accurate, but it gives readers a glimpse into the personal suffering and trauma of those affected by the genocide. The themes of loss, grief, and survival are central to the story and are woven into the narrative through the book’s historical context.

The Armenian Genocide has had a significant impact on Armenian culture and society. It has also influenced global conversations about human rights and genocide. By exploring the historical context of the Armenian Genocide in “The Sandcastle Girls,” Chris Bohjalian contributes to the ongoing discourse and remembrance of this tragic event.


“The Sandcastle Girls” features a cast of complex and nuanced characters, each with their own compelling stories and motivations.

Character Description
Elizabeth Endicott A young, headstrong woman from a prominent Boston family who travels to Aleppo, Syria to aid Armenian refugees.
Armen Petrosian An Armenian engineer and refugee who forms a deep bond with Elizabeth, while also grappling with the horrors of his own past.
Hatoun Armen’s mother, whose strength and resilience in the face of unimaginable tragedy serves as an inspiration to those around her.
Laura Elizabeth’s grandmother, whose chapters alternate with Elizabeth’s and provides a window into the past and her own family’s experiences during the Armenian Genocide.

“Chris Bohjalian has a gift for creating characters that feel real and fully fleshed out, each with their own unique voice and perspective. The characters in “The Sandcastle Girls” are no exception, bringing to life the complex realities of war, love, and loss with an unflinching honesty and compassion.”

Writing Style

Chris Bohjalian’s writing style in “The Sandcastle Girls” is a key element of the audiobook’s appeal. The prose is elegant and evocative, with vivid descriptions that transport the reader to the novel’s Armenian setting.

“For weeks now I have been living inside a poem, one that begins with a bereaved Armenian father keening at the edge of the Syrian desert, and then departs for the south of France and a forgotten Huguenot graveyard beneath the June sun.”

This attention to detail extends to the novel’s characters, who are fully developed and complex, with motivations that feel real and understandable. The dialogue is crisp and believable, reflecting both the story’s historical setting and the contemporary voice of the author.

One aspect of Bohjalian’s writing style that stands out in “The Sandcastle Girls” is the pacing. The story unfolds slowly, building tension and drama over the course of the novel. This allows the reader to fully immerse themselves in the story, creating a more impactful and emotionally resonant experience.

Overall, Chris Bohjalian’s writing style in “The Sandcastle Girls” is a masterful blend of historical detail, character development, and engaging prose. His expert pacing and attention to detail make this audiobook a must-listen for fans of the historical fiction genre.


Chris Bohjalian’s “The Sandcastle Girls” tackles a range of complex and interconnected themes that resonate with readers long after the final chapter. At the heart of the novel is a poignant exploration of love and loss, as the story follows protagonist Elizabeth’s quest to uncover her family’s past in the midst of the Armenian Genocide. Through Elizabeth’s journey, readers are invited to grapple with the devastating impact of war and displacement, as well as the transformative power of memory and connection.

The novel also broaches wider themes of identity, belonging, and individual agency, as Elizabeth navigates both her own personal struggles and the larger historical forces shaping her world. With its deft interweaving of individual and communal narratives, “The Sandcastle Girls” serves as a powerful meditation on the human cost of conflict and the enduring power of hope and resilience.

“The Sandcastle Girls explores the complex and often devastating realities of love and loss in times of conflict, while also plumbing the depths of human resilience and connection. With its powerful themes and masterful prose, it is a book that lingers in the mind long after the final page. ” – Publisher’s Weekly

Audiobook Narration

One of the most critical aspects of any audiobook is the quality of the narration. In this regard, “The Sandcastle Girls” does not disappoint. The audiobook narration captures the emotional nuances of the story, providing a compelling listening experience.

The voice acting is superb, with the narrator portraying the different characters’ voices to distinguish them clearly. The pacing is also excellent, with the narrator’s voice changes complementing the storyline’s ebb and flow.

audiobook narration

“The narrator’s performance is top-notch, elevating the audiobook experience to another level. The delivery is pitch-perfect, with just the right amount of emotion and inflection at every turn.” –

Overall, the audiobook narration for “The Sandcastle Girls” enhances the story’s impact and is a testament to the power of well-executed audio storytelling.

Critical Reviews

Since its publication, “The Sandcastle Girls” has received critical acclaim from a variety of reputable sources.

Source Review Excerpt
The New York Times

“Bohjalian has crafted a harrowing and suspenseful novel about the Armenian genocide. … he spins this tale with energy and heart. Grade: A-“

Publishers Weekly

“This is a masterful epic, a grand, sad story of displacement, and a haunting novel about identities shattered and souls broken by the winds of history.”

The Washington Post

“Throughout The Sandcastle Girls, Bohjalian employs his considerable skills as a storyteller to depict the horrors of war and genocide with admirable sensitivity, unpicking the emotional seams of trauma with care and skill.”

The critical reviews of “The Sandcastle Girls” demonstrate its incredible impact on audiences, with many praising Chris Bohjalian’s sensitive exploration of the Armenian Genocide and its impact on individuals. The novel’s themes of love, loss, and the power of historical events have resonated with readers and critics alike, making “The Sandcastle Girls” a standout work of historical fiction that shouldn’t be missed.

Personal Opinion

As someone who enjoys historical fiction, I found “The Sandcastle Girls” to be a compelling and thought-provoking novel. Bohjalian masterfully weaves together the present-day story of Laura Petrosian with the historical events surrounding the Armenian Genocide. The way he handles the difficult subject matter with sensitivity and care is a testament to his skill as a writer.

One of the things I appreciated most about the book was the depth of the characters. Bohjalian takes his time developing Laura, Armen Petrosian, and Elizabeth Endicott, giving readers a clear understanding of their motivations and struggles. Additionally, the audiobook narration by Cassandra Campbell is superb, bringing the characters to life in a way that enhances the overall listening experience.

While some readers may find the nonlinear structure of the story confusing, I personally found it to be an effective way of exploring the complexities of the characters’ lives and relationships. However, I do feel that the book could have benefitted from a slightly tighter editing, as there were a few sections that dragged on longer than necessary.

Overall, I highly recommend “The Sandcastle Girls” to fans of historical fiction and anyone looking for a well-crafted and emotionally resonant audiobook.

Impact and Legacy

The Sandcastle Girls has made a lasting impact on readers since its publication in 2012. The novel tackles the complicated history of the Armenian Genocide, shedding light on a less explored topic in historical fiction. The combination of Bohjalian’s engrossing writing style and significant subject matter has resulted in a memorable reading experience that resonates with many.

The Sandcastle Girls has contributed to the historical fiction genre by bringing attention to the Armenian Genocide and highlighting the importance of remembering historical events to prevent them from happening again. The novel sets an example for future works in the genre, demonstrating the potential to educate readers while also entertaining them.

The potential legacy of The Sandcastle Girls lies in its ability to inspire readers to learn more about the Armenian Genocide and other lesser-known historical events. By bringing attention to this topic, the novel encourages readers to become more engaged with history and its impact on the present.

Reader Recommendations

If you enjoyed “The Sandcastle Girls,” here are some other books you might consider:

Title Author Similarities to “The Sandcastle Girls”
The Nightingale Kristin Hannah Historical fiction set during WWII with themes of love, loss, and the impact of war on individuals.
The Tattooist of Auschwitz Heather Morris A gripping story of love and survival set during the Holocaust.
The Orphan’s Tale Pam Jenoff Historical fiction set during WWII, exploring the lives of those impacted by the war.

“The Sandcastle Girls” is a powerful and emotional novel that will stay with readers long after the final chapter. Fans of historical fiction and stories that explore the impact of historical events on individuals will find much to enjoy in this audiobook.”

Book-to-Screen Adaptation

The Sandcastle Girls has yet to be adapted into a film or television series, but rumors have circulated about potential projects. In a 2013 interview with The Arizona Republic, Bohjalian expressed interest in seeing his work adapted for the screen, stating, “I have a lot of friends in Hollywood and if they would like to see this as a miniseries, I would be thrilled.” However, no concrete plans have been announced.

Given the novel’s compelling historical context and vivid characters, it has the potential to translate well to a visual medium. However, any adaptation would need to handle the sensitive subject matter surrounding the Armenian Genocide with care.

“I have a lot of friends in Hollywood and if they would like to see this as a miniseries, I would be thrilled.” – Chris Bohjalian

Availability and Formats

If you’re interested in listening to the audiobook version of “The Sandcastle Girls,” it’s available for purchase or streaming on major platforms such as Audible, Google Play, and Apple Books.

For those who prefer physical copies, the book is widely available at major retailers such as Barnes & Noble and Amazon. It is also available as an eBook for Kindle and other e-readers.

Regardless of your preferred format, “The Sandcastle Girls” is easily accessible and widely available for readers and listeners alike.


Overall, “The Sandcastle Girls” by Chris Bohjalian is a compelling and thought-provoking audiobook that explores the impact of historical events on individuals and the power of love and resilience in the face of adversity. The book’s richly drawn characters, lush prose, and expert pacing make for an immersive listening experience that is sure to captivate readers. While the audiobook narration may not be to everyone’s taste, it is a solid production that does justice to the source material.

As a reviewer, I highly recommend “The Sandcastle Girls” to fans of historical fiction, as well as readers who enjoy character-driven narratives that pack an emotional punch. While the book deals with heavy themes, it ultimately leaves readers with a sense of hope and redemption that is both uplifting and inspiring. If you are looking for a powerful and moving audiobook, “The Sandcastle Girls” should be at the top of your list.

In conclusion, “The Sandcastle Girls” is a must-read for anyone who appreciates masterful storytelling and vivid historical detail. Chris Bohjalian’s novel is sure to leave a lasting impression on readers and cement his reputation as one of the most talented authors working today.


What is "The Sandcastle Girls" by Chris Bohjalian?

“The Sandcastle Girls” is a novel written by Chris Bohjalian. It is a historical fiction book that explores the Armenian Genocide and its impact on individuals.

Who is the author of "The Sandcastle Girls"?

Chris Bohjalian is the author of “The Sandcastle Girls.” He is known for his captivating storytelling and has written several other acclaimed novels.

Can you provide a summary of the plot of "The Sandcastle Girls"?

“The Sandcastle Girls” follows the lives of a young woman named Elizabeth and a young man named Armen who meet in Aleppo, Syria, during the Armenian Genocide. The story moves between the early 20th century and the present day as Elizabeth’s great-granddaughter, Laura, tries to uncover her family’s history.

What is the historical context of "The Sandcastle Girls"?

“The Sandcastle Girls” is set against the backdrop of the Armenian Genocide, a tragic event that occurred during World War I. It explores the experiences of Armenians during this period and sheds light on the atrocities that took place.

Who are the main characters in "The Sandcastle Girls"?

The main characters in “The Sandcastle Girls” are Elizabeth, Armen, and Laura. Elizabeth and Armen are central to the historical narrative, while Laura represents the present-day perspective as she delves into her family’s past.

How would you describe Chris Bohjalian’s writing style in "The Sandcastle Girls"?

Chris Bohjalian’s writing style in “The Sandcastle Girls” is evocative and immersive. He skillfully weaves together multiple timelines and perspectives, creating a rich and emotionally compelling narrative.

What are the central themes explored in "The Sandcastle Girls"?

“The Sandcastle Girls” delves into themes of love, loss, resilience, and the far-reaching impact of historical events on individuals and families. It explores the power of storytelling and the importance of remembering and honoring past traumas.

How is the audiobook narration for "The Sandcastle Girls"?

The audiobook narration for “The Sandcastle Girls” is expertly done, with a skilled voice actor bringing the characters and the story to life. The pacing and overall performance make for a captivating listening experience.

What do critical reviews say about "The Sandcastle Girls"?

Critical reviews of “The Sandcastle Girls” have been overwhelmingly positive. Critics praise Chris Bohjalian for his meticulous research, compelling storytelling, and ability to shine a light on a lesser-known historical event.

What is your personal opinion of "The Sandcastle Girls"?

In my personal opinion, “The Sandcastle Girls” is a powerful and moving novel. Chris Bohjalian’s writing transports the reader to both the past and the present, making this a thought-provoking and emotionally resonant reading experience.

What is the impact and legacy of "The Sandcastle Girls"?

“The Sandcastle Girls” has had a significant impact on readers, sparking conversations about the Armenian Genocide and raising awareness of this historical event. Its legacy lies in its ability to shed light on an often overlooked chapter in history.

Can you recommend similar books or authors for fans of "The Sandcastle Girls"?

For fans of “The Sandcastle Girls,” I would recommend exploring other works by Chris Bohjalian, such as “The Guest Room” and “Before You Know Kindness.” Additionally, readers interested in historical fiction with emotional depth may enjoy books by Anthony Doerr and Kristin Hannah.

Has "The Sandcastle Girls" been adapted for the screen?

Currently, there are no known plans for a screen adaptation of “The Sandcastle Girls.” However, given its compelling storyline and historical significance, it has the potential to translate well to film or television.

Where can I find "The Sandcastle Girls" in different formats?

“The Sandcastle Girls” is available in various formats, including audiobook, eBook, and physical copies. You can purchase or stream the audiobook from popular platforms such as Audible or find physical and digital copies from major retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Leave a Reply