Through his amazing writing, Bohjalian’s presented a slew of characters who were gritty and realistic, and depicted the war from all angles in “The Sandcastle Girls.” Their personal struggles reveal the full impact of death and despair in Syria during the Armenian genocide and make the novel hauntingly real. Still, he managed to create an atmosphere where hope and love thrived. Focusing on Elizabeth, who has come to Syria to volunteer to help with the human aid given, she finds herself in the unlikely situation of falling in love with Armen, a soldier. I felt that Elizabeth’s romance with Armen hadn’t developed enough for them to be so totally in love when he left, but I accepted it. The book was told through both flashbacks of the war and a present day story where the narrator told of her grandparents’ lives and family dynamic. I was not a huge fan of the present day story because it seemed to ramble aimlessly. I did like Elizabeth, and her courage and compassion was enjoyable to read. The writing and characters was excellent, but ultimately, the novel focused on such a serious subject that it was depressing. Famine, death, and despair permeated every page. Themes of persevering through horrendous struggles highlight the strength of the human spirit, but I would caution a reader to know what they are getting into before picking this one up.