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Powerful, emotional, and beautifully written, Alan Drew’s stunning first novel brings to life two unforgettable families–one Kurdish, one American–and the sacrifice and love that bind them together. In a small town outside Istanbul, Sinan Basioglu, a devout Muslim, and his wife, Nilüfer, are preparing for their nine-year-old son’s coming-of-age ceremony. Their headstrong fi Powerful, emotional, and beautifully written, Alan Drew’s stunning first novel brings to life two unforgettable families–one Kurdish, one American–and the sacrifice and love that bind them together. In a small town outside Istanbul, Sinan Basioglu, a devout Muslim, and his wife, Nilüfer, are preparing for their nine-year-old son’s coming-of-age ceremony. Their headstrong fifteen-year-old daughter, İrem, resents the attention her brother, Ismail, receives from their parents. For her, there was no such festive observance–only the wrapping of her head in a dark scarf and strict rules that keep her hidden away from boys and her friends. But even before the night of the celebration, İrem has started to change, to the dismay of her Kurdish father. What Sinan doesn’t know is that much of her transformation is due to her secret relationship with their neighbor, Dylan, the seventeen-year-old American son of expatriate teachers. İrem sees Dylan as the gateway to a new life, one that will free her from the confines of conservative Islam. Yet the young man’s presence and Sinan’s growing awareness of their relationship affirms Sinan’s wish to move his family to the safety of his old village, a place where his children would be sheltered from the cosmopolitan temptations of Istanbul, and where, as the civil war in the south wanes, he hopes to raise his children in the Kurdish tradition. But when a massive earthquake hits in the middle of the night, the Basioglu family is faced with greater challenges. Losing everything, they are forced to forage for themselves, living as refugees in their own country. And their survival becomes dependent on their American neighbors, to whom they are unnervingly indebted. As love develops between İrem and Dylan, Sinan makes a series of increasingly dangerous decisions that push him toward a betrayal that will change everyone’s lives forever. The deep bonds among father, son, and daughter; the tension between honoring tradition and embracing personal freedom; the conflict between cultures and faiths; the regrets of age and the passions of youth–these are the timeless themes Alan Drew weaves into a brilliant fiction debut.


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Powerful, emotional, and beautifully written, Alan Drew’s stunning first novel brings to life two unforgettable families–one Kurdish, one American–and the sacrifice and love that bind them together. In a small town outside Istanbul, Sinan Basioglu, a devout Muslim, and his wife, Nilüfer, are preparing for their nine-year-old son’s coming-of-age ceremony. Their headstrong fi Powerful, emotional, and beautifully written, Alan Drew’s stunning first novel brings to life two unforgettable families–one Kurdish, one American–and the sacrifice and love that bind them together. In a small town outside Istanbul, Sinan Basioglu, a devout Muslim, and his wife, Nilüfer, are preparing for their nine-year-old son’s coming-of-age ceremony. Their headstrong fifteen-year-old daughter, İrem, resents the attention her brother, Ismail, receives from their parents. For her, there was no such festive observance–only the wrapping of her head in a dark scarf and strict rules that keep her hidden away from boys and her friends. But even before the night of the celebration, İrem has started to change, to the dismay of her Kurdish father. What Sinan doesn’t know is that much of her transformation is due to her secret relationship with their neighbor, Dylan, the seventeen-year-old American son of expatriate teachers. İrem sees Dylan as the gateway to a new life, one that will free her from the confines of conservative Islam. Yet the young man’s presence and Sinan’s growing awareness of their relationship affirms Sinan’s wish to move his family to the safety of his old village, a place where his children would be sheltered from the cosmopolitan temptations of Istanbul, and where, as the civil war in the south wanes, he hopes to raise his children in the Kurdish tradition. But when a massive earthquake hits in the middle of the night, the Basioglu family is faced with greater challenges. Losing everything, they are forced to forage for themselves, living as refugees in their own country. And their survival becomes dependent on their American neighbors, to whom they are unnervingly indebted. As love develops between İrem and Dylan, Sinan makes a series of increasingly dangerous decisions that push him toward a betrayal that will change everyone’s lives forever. The deep bonds among father, son, and daughter; the tension between honoring tradition and embracing personal freedom; the conflict between cultures and faiths; the regrets of age and the passions of youth–these are the timeless themes Alan Drew weaves into a brilliant fiction debut.

30 review for Gardens of Water

  1. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    Well, I really liked this book. A lot. (Strange to read some of the other reviews on goodreads, such a variety! The most negative ones seem to focus on the relationship between the two teens in the story but I think the book is about so much more.) It gave me a lot to think about - parental love and duty, cultural blindness, self blindness and the way our personal histories shape our ability to express ourselves and make decisions, etc. Some of the characters made me so angry. I just don't have Well, I really liked this book. A lot. (Strange to read some of the other reviews on goodreads, such a variety! The most negative ones seem to focus on the relationship between the two teens in the story but I think the book is about so much more.) It gave me a lot to think about - parental love and duty, cultural blindness, self blindness and the way our personal histories shape our ability to express ourselves and make decisions, etc. Some of the characters made me so angry. I just don't have much patience with self centeredness. Over all, it was a good reminder of the pervasive, stickiness of our individual world views and how much we all need to learn and grow. Strange to listen to this one knowing that people in New Zealand are suffering from the recent earthquake there... A well done audio. A few weakly drawn characters but mostly fascinating and engaging.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Theresa

    If I had only "read" this book, I would probably give it only two stars. But I had the rather different experience of listening to parts of it and reading parts of it. It is the story of a Kurdish Muslim family and its interaction with an American Christian family after an earthquake in Turkey. (The clash of cultures is the rather obvious part of the plot, but how that clash is played out is not as obvious) The reader of the audio version gave such an emotion-filled rendition of each of the char If I had only "read" this book, I would probably give it only two stars. But I had the rather different experience of listening to parts of it and reading parts of it. It is the story of a Kurdish Muslim family and its interaction with an American Christian family after an earthquake in Turkey. (The clash of cultures is the rather obvious part of the plot, but how that clash is played out is not as obvious) The reader of the audio version gave such an emotion-filled rendition of each of the character's voices that I felt like I knew each one individually and intimately. He could switch from the accented voice of the Muslim father to the teen-age slang of the American son to the anguished voice of the Muslim daughter. The parts that I actually "read" were only "so-so," but they came to life when I imagined hearing the voice of the reader. I would probably not recommend that you read this book, but I would definitely recommend that you listen to this book. And this comes from a person who very much prefers turning the page to turning up the volume.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mandy Tanksley

    "Gardens of Water" is a richly detailed, beautifully written emotional journey of the lives of one family and those in their neighborhood after a devastating earthquake rumbles through Turkey. Sinan Bashioglu tries to give his family the best he can no matter how poor he is, but throughout the story he disappoints one family member or another with the choices he makes. His family's apartment building is destroyed in the quake and Sinan has to move them to a tent city until he can afford train ti "Gardens of Water" is a richly detailed, beautifully written emotional journey of the lives of one family and those in their neighborhood after a devastating earthquake rumbles through Turkey. Sinan Bashioglu tries to give his family the best he can no matter how poor he is, but throughout the story he disappoints one family member or another with the choices he makes. His family's apartment building is destroyed in the quake and Sinan has to move them to a tent city until he can afford train tickets back to his once war-ravaged hometown. Along the way, readers meet a variety of characters from different backgrounds all claiming to be doing what they feel is right. Of course, when those people come from such diverse backgrounds as these characters (Kurds, Turks, and Americans; varying degrees of Muslims and Christians) it's easy to see why everyone is so tense. The center of the trouble is Sinan's teenage daughter Irem and her desperate desire for affection. This desire and her parents' unwillingness to accept who she thinks she wants to be sends her into the arms of American boy to the great disappointment of her parents. The story is captivating. The characters are people you want to love, trust, and understand but at the same time you cannot. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for something different and exciting to read.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    I struggle with the star rating on this one. At times, I felt 4 stars but at others 2 star, so I came to the middle with 3. It does make me want to learn more about the history re: animosity between the Turks and the Kurds. The main voice in this story is Sinian, a Kurdish Muslim living in Turkey which already brings to the palette the issues of an oppressed minority population. He has two children, his teenage daughter Irem who chafes at the thought of life as a conservative Muslim woman and is I struggle with the star rating on this one. At times, I felt 4 stars but at others 2 star, so I came to the middle with 3. It does make me want to learn more about the history re: animosity between the Turks and the Kurds. The main voice in this story is Sinian, a Kurdish Muslim living in Turkey which already brings to the palette the issues of an oppressed minority population. He has two children, his teenage daughter Irem who chafes at the thought of life as a conservative Muslim woman and is envious of the adoration by her parents of her 9 y/o younger brother Ismail. Irem's dreams of a different life are encouraged by a American neighbor in her apartment building, Dylan, son of an American teacher. Their lives will soon be intertwined to the aggrievement of Sinian by an earthquake which destroys their home and life as they know it. The families are thrown together in a camp in the aftermath and Sinian is torn by his resentment of the Americans yet the knowledge that Marcus's (the teacher) wife most likely died in saving his son's life. The clash of cultures begins in earnest and a Romeo & Juliet type relationship begins between Dylan and Irem. This is a depressing story. A tragedy with a well-written description of the extent of human suffering and grief. Some of these characters are fully developed, many are not. I wished the trauma and it's manifestations on Ismail were more fully developed. I was put off by the ending of the storylines of Dylan, Irem & the remainder of Sinian's family. I loved the cover of my paperback edition, I don't know where the title comes from.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Bob

    Honestly, if there were 6 stars, I'd give this book seven! I don't think I've read a more beautifully scripted book — especially a first novel by an author! — than this. Several times during the one evening during which I read it, I'd stop and say to my wife what a wonderful writer this man is. Then I'd read her several pages, a portion of the story. I picked this up at our local library in my current quest to better understand Islam. This book is told primarily from the viewpoint of a Kurdish, M Honestly, if there were 6 stars, I'd give this book seven! I don't think I've read a more beautifully scripted book — especially a first novel by an author! — than this. Several times during the one evening during which I read it, I'd stop and say to my wife what a wonderful writer this man is. Then I'd read her several pages, a portion of the story. I picked this up at our local library in my current quest to better understand Islam. This book is told primarily from the viewpoint of a Kurdish, Muslim father whose family has had to flee his home village for a city in order to avoid the Turk soldiers. Besides his pain of losing his home and his ancestral link to his family, he suffers from a severe club foot which cause him pain, difficulty, and embarrassment. Just as we begin to get a feel for his pride and his family complications (his teenaged daughter is falling in love with an American boy in their apartment complex) a huge earthquake hits the region. This is the actual 1999 earthquake which resulted in over 17,000 deaths and a million homeless - including our family. The refugees are forced to move into a camp set up by a Christian/Red Cross relief organization, which grates against the father's pride and sensibilities. Matters grow worse as his daughter's infatuation with the American boy grows until there is a passionate explosion in the family and camp. I highly recommend this book. The prose is alarmingly good, and the characters are developed so well I was able to identify with this man of an entirely different culture on the other side of the world. This book helped me look differently at Muslims, Kurds, and teenaged daughters.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Lara

    Reality is depressing and tragic in this novel about why Americans (Westerners) and Kurds (Muslims) will never overcome enemy status. I didn't love this book, but it is going to stay with me as a reminder of the clash between Christian and Muslim. Although it is fiction, I'm sure that the author's experience living in Turkey drove the main themes of the book. It seemed a bit presumptuous to me that an American man would attempt to write from not only a Muslim Kurd's point of view, but also from Reality is depressing and tragic in this novel about why Americans (Westerners) and Kurds (Muslims) will never overcome enemy status. I didn't love this book, but it is going to stay with me as a reminder of the clash between Christian and Muslim. Although it is fiction, I'm sure that the author's experience living in Turkey drove the main themes of the book. It seemed a bit presumptuous to me that an American man would attempt to write from not only a Muslim Kurd's point of view, but also from his daughter's point of view---I wonder if a Muslim Kurd read this book if he would feel well represented or not... I didn't love any of the characters in the book, but I hurt for all of them. I wished it would have ended differently--- So I'm not sure if I'd recommend this book (very sad, graphic, and depressing--and not always great writing) but I'm glad I read it and feel like I've gained another perspective on the world, which is why I read.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Betsy

    This story was tragic with a capital T. More than just a Romeo & Juliet story of Irem, a Muslim Kurdish girl and Dylan, the son of a American Christian teacher. The details of the earthquake and its aftermath and the setting up of the refugee camp as well as the developing romance were well developed. Much of the story was told from Irem's father Sinan's point of view as he struggled to do the right thing for his family, to keep them safe and unsullied by outside influences. SPOILER ALERT The narr This story was tragic with a capital T. More than just a Romeo & Juliet story of Irem, a Muslim Kurdish girl and Dylan, the son of a American Christian teacher. The details of the earthquake and its aftermath and the setting up of the refugee camp as well as the developing romance were well developed. Much of the story was told from Irem's father Sinan's point of view as he struggled to do the right thing for his family, to keep them safe and unsullied by outside influences. SPOILER ALERT The narrative seemed to meander in opposing directions near the end of the book after Irem has taken her life. Sinan's reactions veer from wanting to murder Dylan for raping his daughter, Dylan's father Marcus for trying to convert his impressionable young son Ismail, and stealing from his employer which he is somehow able to justify even though he's been portrayed as a devout, if flawed man. I think the subtext of the Americans trying to convert the Turkish refugees was unnecessary to the telling of the story and wished it had focussed more on the Romeo & Juliet story. We never get to see Dylan's perspective at all. Why would he want to be involved with Irem when he could surround himself with wealthy Turkish girls who were more Westernized? He seemed to genuinely like Irem so it's hard to reconcile this with his later, rather callous behavior towards her. His character was two-dimensional and his motivations are unclear. His father, Marcus seems at first to not be interested in trying to convert the Muslim children and understanding of Sinan's anger over the other missionaries' behavior but later we find out that he has, in fact, been giving Ismail Christian pamphlets.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Who knew that the emo-kid revolution spread all the way to Turkey? The worst pat of this novel is that it started out so interestingly cultural. An old Kurdish man and his son preparing for the young boys circumcision, defiantly not something that I ever have experienced. I have to admit that i was drawn in to the foreign rituals and landscapes that Drew describes What a disappointment! Drew had such a marvelous chance to give american readers and opportunity to look at the Kurdish lifestyle and Who knew that the emo-kid revolution spread all the way to Turkey? The worst pat of this novel is that it started out so interestingly cultural. An old Kurdish man and his son preparing for the young boys circumcision, defiantly not something that I ever have experienced. I have to admit that i was drawn in to the foreign rituals and landscapes that Drew describes What a disappointment! Drew had such a marvelous chance to give american readers and opportunity to look at the Kurdish lifestyle and the struggles of being a female in a male dominated society. But no, of course he had to throw in the oh-so-taboo love of Irem, a Muslim practicing native of Turkey, and Dylan, the answer to her American rock and roll dreams. Their young love blossoms after an earthquake causes Irem's family too move in to the American refugee camp. After seeing her daughter with an American, Irem's father decides to put her into solitary confinement, where she starts to cut herself in hopes that Dylan will feel her pain...you can see where this is going. Finally Dylan and Irem run away only to discover that Irem is not ready to betray her family completely and not willing to sleep with Dylan. So Dylan, being the average All American Guy, gets Irem drunk and sleeps with her anyways! And then when you think that this novel cannot get any more cliche or americanized, Irem throws herself off a bridge! Touching...so touching.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kya

    The novel Gardens of Water, is the first book that was written by Alan Drew, who was born and raised in California and has traveled all around the world. Drew attended the Iowa Writers' Workshop and has a master of fine arts degree. This book is about a girl, Irem, and her family, living in a small town outside Istanbul. They are Kurdish Muslim and have many strict beliefs. Irem and her family live in an apartment building with a couple other people, including an American family consisting of a The novel Gardens of Water, is the first book that was written by Alan Drew, who was born and raised in California and has traveled all around the world. Drew attended the Iowa Writers' Workshop and has a master of fine arts degree. This book is about a girl, Irem, and her family, living in a small town outside Istanbul. They are Kurdish Muslim and have many strict beliefs. Irem and her family live in an apartment building with a couple other people, including an American family consisting of a young boy, Dylan, who is 17 years old, and his mother and father. Gardens of Water is a story of love, family, growing-up, and betrayal. In the novel Gardens of Water, the reader can relate to the young love blossoming between Irem and Dylan, the young American boy. It shows that two people from opposite sides of the world can be so similar, and love is always possible, even in the worst of circumstances. Every turn in this novel is a surprise and even though things do not turn out the way they seem to go in the direction of, there is a satisfying ending. The characterization is interesting because putting Irem, a conservative girl who is self-conscious about her body, with Dylan, a cool, laid back guy, with tattoos and more knowledge about the world lets us as readers understand the different perspectives on the world. Some weaknesses in Gardens of Water were that it was very frustrating when the conflicts didn't quite evolve into solutions. The author could develop his ideas more to satisfy the reader and to create a more put together feel in the novel. Some parts of the novel were confusing especially when the author quickly switched point of views so that the reader had no idea who was speaking or what was going on. Some parts of the novel were also drawn on too long to be enjoyable. Although it had many flaws, this novel was a great mind-opening book to all the cultures surrounding us. It made me feel blind when I read this book because I have never heard of any of the history in Middle Eastern countries, and it was like being slapped in the face with a whole other world. Gardens of Water had many strong moments and conflicts that were very interesting and good to think about. Overall, this novel was an exciting and suspenseful one and I would recommend it to people who enjoy romantic novels or novels about world cultures.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Rosalind Gallaspie

    Four days after arriving in Turkey , author Alan Drew survived the murderous 1999 earthquake. Out of this devastation and rubble, Drew constructs a narrative where individuals struggle with identity, tradition, and clashing religious and political realities. Sinan Basioglu, a Kurdish club-footed grocer, is the core character around whom and whose family the novel's multiple story lines develop and who is confronted with the shifting ground of the fault lines of Istanbul and morals at the turn of Four days after arriving in Turkey , author Alan Drew survived the murderous 1999 earthquake. Out of this devastation and rubble, Drew constructs a narrative where individuals struggle with identity, tradition, and clashing religious and political realities. Sinan Basioglu, a Kurdish club-footed grocer, is the core character around whom and whose family the novel's multiple story lines develop and who is confronted with the shifting ground of the fault lines of Istanbul and morals at the turn of the 21st century. Drew presents Sinan and his family with multiple conflicts: faith vs secularism; pride in personal heritage vs westernization; tradition vs evolution; religion vs religion. In the opening chapter, Drew reveals internal conflict within Sinan as he contemplates postponing the circumcision ceremony planned for his nine-year-old son. Sinan knows, however, what he must do to initiate his honored son to manhood. Drew uses this ceremony to underscore the valued position of son and the marginal position of daughter. Teen-aged daughter Irem struggles against rules that restrict her and thrusts the family into as much turmoil and devastation as did the earthquake. Sinan is filled with self-doubt and shame as he watches worlds collide. Book reviewer Alexis Burling writes, "Above all, GARDENS OF WATER is a vivid snapshot into the lives of downtrodden people ravaged by war, greed, religious persecution and centuries-old misunderstanding. With every word, Drew captures the truest essence of what transpires when two dissimilar cultures collide under desperate circumstances. And while the catalyst for Sinan’s family and neighbors’ troubles is a natural disaster instead of war, one can’t help but think that the book hints at a larger metaphor: the inexcusable transgressions happening worldwide to people who are taken advantage of in the name of religion, the acquisition of land, or the plundering of natural resources. Though some Americans hate to admit that we might be at the center of such controversies, Drew tastefully places us at the forefront of the equation in a gesture that refrains from placing blame, but merely points out the complexities of the situation."

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ariana

    My local library was selling some books the other day and I bought this one for just 50 cents. I can honestly say it was so much more than I expected it to be! 4.5 stars, even! The book is chiefly about the illicit relationship between a young Kurdish girl living in Turkey with conservative Kurdish parents and her American boyfriend. The girl naturally falls in love with a tatooed, Radio Head-listening American boy, whose dad is working in a disaster relief program assisting families whose lives My local library was selling some books the other day and I bought this one for just 50 cents. I can honestly say it was so much more than I expected it to be! 4.5 stars, even! The book is chiefly about the illicit relationship between a young Kurdish girl living in Turkey with conservative Kurdish parents and her American boyfriend. The girl naturally falls in love with a tatooed, Radio Head-listening American boy, whose dad is working in a disaster relief program assisting families whose lives were literally uprooted in a recent earthquake. Drama ensues. The book is so much more than just a romance, though. It's about culture conflicts, prejudice, honor killings, social class friction, growing up, innocence and guilt, and the relationships between the Kurdish and Turkish with the Americans. What I liked best was how complex the characters were. The two main characters are Irem (the Kurdish girl) and her conservative father Sinan. The book alternates between their points of view. There is no clear villain in this story. You may want to slap Sinan for being so damn sexist (and what he may or may not do by the end of the book) but the author makes it almost impossible for you to hate him, because despite all of his faults he is still a caring, compassionate, sensitive, hard-working father. Irem is also extremely complex. The author deftly elucidates Irem's struggle between her conservative upbringing and the wild, no-rules life that is promised by her new love interest with profound SKILL. We watch as she wrestles with her morals and her faith and her desire for freedom. Which path she chooses, you'll have to read the book to find out. :P This is what I got from the book's controversial theme: That while we Americans may have good intentions when it comes to the Middle East, it is likely that in the process of trying to help, damage is caused that could have been prevented. Not saying I agree with that, but it's something to think about after reading this book.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    Set in a small town outside Istanbul. Sinan, a devout Kurdish Muslim man and his wife Nilufer prepare for coming-of-age ceremony for Ismail, their 9 year old son. Irem, 15 year old daughter, feeling that she isn't equally loved, resents the attention focused on her brother. All Irem feels she is given is restrictions in the form of the strict rules separating her from boys/men, symbolised in the tight headscarf. Irem finds solace in a secret relationship with neighbour Dylan, 17 year old son of Set in a small town outside Istanbul. Sinan, a devout Kurdish Muslim man and his wife Nilufer prepare for coming-of-age ceremony for Ismail, their 9 year old son. Irem, 15 year old daughter, feeling that she isn't equally loved, resents the attention focused on her brother. All Irem feels she is given is restrictions in the form of the strict rules separating her from boys/men, symbolised in the tight headscarf. Irem finds solace in a secret relationship with neighbour Dylan, 17 year old son of expat American teachers. After a massive and horrifying earthquake displaces the Kurdish family, making them refugees in their own county, they are forced to rely on the American (Christian) neighbours/US aid for survival. This book has all the usual suspects of good international fiction in an engaging but heartwrenching narrative: sacrifices, family bonds of love, tension between notions of honouring tradition and the urge toward personal freedom, conflicts of culture and race, regrets of age, impetuosity of youth. Definitely I am more compassionate for reading this novel. Not to be recommended for those wanting light or escapist reading: subject matter is the profound human issues: race, nationality, faith, generation. Characters are complex and believable.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Beth Patrick

    I picked this up off the library shelf without knowing anything about the author or subject. I do this quite a bit and I am often happily surprised with the results. It also helps to expand on subjects, so I don't get caught in a rut reading the same types of books. Some of the subject matter is hard to digest, but it is told from the view of a culture with very old beliefs and sub-systems. I found it to be honest, sad, entertaining and informative. I kept rooting for the daughter to jump out of I picked this up off the library shelf without knowing anything about the author or subject. I do this quite a bit and I am often happily surprised with the results. It also helps to expand on subjects, so I don't get caught in a rut reading the same types of books. Some of the subject matter is hard to digest, but it is told from the view of a culture with very old beliefs and sub-systems. I found it to be honest, sad, entertaining and informative. I kept rooting for the daughter to jump out of her skin and be liberated, but that is from an American upbringing of being a free person and being able to make one's own decisions. It did not, nor can I see that it would ever be the view of such old customs, thus liberation is not always a good thing. I didn't like the way the book ended, but again, it was probably as it should be. There is not always a happy ending for all. The ride along the way was worth the read.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Mushy

    A two sitting read. Interesting lesson on Kurdish religious beliefs and ideas; I was immersed in the absoluteness of their tenets. A sweet story of innocent love, unrequited and hopeless. I have issues with our big brotherliness method under the guise of 'saving' the world with absolutely no conscience.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Hesther Van Gulick

    I'm not ready for this to be over!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Robyn Hammontree

    This book did not break my heart. It pulverized it.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kitty

    Actually listened to this and I highly recommend that over just reading. The dialogue and nuance of the Kurdish dialect was meant to be told in audio and that version is close to a perfect wrap. And the lessons in this story are just priceless. Alan Drew is definitely someone to watch. Check this out, a must-read-listen-to story, if there every was one.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Mara

    Sometimes, obvious flaws in things like characterization can be overlooked because of how well the book is written overall. Such is the case here. It wasn't until I was nearly at the end of the book, when things were clearly winding down, that I realized that most of the major characters had not been fully developed, nor were their motivations always totally clear. But perhaps in this book the individual characters were stand-ins for the eternal conflicts of East vs. West and one generation again Sometimes, obvious flaws in things like characterization can be overlooked because of how well the book is written overall. Such is the case here. It wasn't until I was nearly at the end of the book, when things were clearly winding down, that I realized that most of the major characters had not been fully developed, nor were their motivations always totally clear. But perhaps in this book the individual characters were stand-ins for the eternal conflicts of East vs. West and one generation against another. Both are realistically drawn as Irem struggles with herself against the traditions with which she's been raised, but is unable to completely break away from them. Her mother struggles to reconcile the choices she’s made, and her desire to raise her daughter in the same way she was raised, with the evident changes in the world around her and the greater opportunities Irem could take advantage of. Sinan, Irem’s father, struggles to support his family and to maintain the religious traditions that are important to him. None of the characters ever fully resolves their struggles, which is perhaps very realistic, although in some cases their own actions or events outside their control inadvertently lead to a resolution. Drew portrays these struggles very well. Indeed, in some places he demonstrates a rare gift for the ability to paint a scene. One scene in particular that deserves special mention is the scene where Sinan takes his son to visit the holiest mosque in Istanbul. There, while trying to teach his son how to pray, Sinan must deal with the distraction of Western tourists who are touring the mosque. This scene is so vividly rendered that the reader can’t escape the implications of the potential dangers to Sinan’s faith and way of life inherent in the encroachment of Westerners.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jodi

    Wow! I read this book was devoured in one delicious, melancoly sitting while driving to Wisconsin from Pennsylvania! I simply couldn't put it down! The book is set outside Istanbul and is about a Kurdish family and their American neighbors who live above them before the devastating earthquake occurs. The earthquake changes all their lives forever. I felt deep sympathy for the daughter, Irem, because her life seemed so limited by her culture to me and I could see that she yearned to break free. S Wow! I read this book was devoured in one delicious, melancoly sitting while driving to Wisconsin from Pennsylvania! I simply couldn't put it down! The book is set outside Istanbul and is about a Kurdish family and their American neighbors who live above them before the devastating earthquake occurs. The earthquake changes all their lives forever. I felt deep sympathy for the daughter, Irem, because her life seemed so limited by her culture to me and I could see that she yearned to break free. She seemed to have few choices granted to her and she just disappeared into the background of her family throughout the book. The earthquake granted her more freedom but she paid dearly for the choices she made. My heart ached for her throughout the book. At first, I thought Ismail, the 9 year old son, was spoiled but once I understood how horribly he was affected by the earthquake and the change in his family's circumstances, I felt sympathetic towards him too. This book definitely showed a clash of cultural and religious beliefs. I do believe that people all over the world need to be understanding of each other's uniqueness and learn to appreciate them. The Kurdish family in the book was Muslim and as the father talked about his view of Heaven, I could see some similarities to my religious beliefs. The father tells his son about Heaven and his words create such a beautiful picture of what happens to our souls after we die. I love how the title of the book "Gardens of Water" ties into the father's vision of Heaven - beautiful!

  20. 4 out of 5

    M.M. Strawberry Library & Reviews

    This book started off so well. I love historical, and cultural fiction. This story immerses us in Turkey within the life of a Kurdish Muslim family and their American neighbors. I liked the romance between Irem and Dylan and how she struggled with her Muslin beliefs and her desire to be more freedom in the male-dominated Muslim social/cultural system. The earthquake hits, and everyone's life is turned upside down. However, it gives Irem some more freedom, and she takes the chance to enjoy this si This book started off so well. I love historical, and cultural fiction. This story immerses us in Turkey within the life of a Kurdish Muslim family and their American neighbors. I liked the romance between Irem and Dylan and how she struggled with her Muslin beliefs and her desire to be more freedom in the male-dominated Muslim social/cultural system. The earthquake hits, and everyone's life is turned upside down. However, it gives Irem some more freedom, and she takes the chance to enjoy this silver lining amidst the chaos and turmoil of her family's near-homelessness. She still struggles, of course, not just with herself, but her parents, especially her mother, who frankly, comes off at times as something that rhymes with 'witch'. I found myself appalled and tuned off by the ending. For a story that I was enjoying so much with its descriptions of life in a different land as well as coping with a earthquake and the aftermath of it, the ending was like driving a car head-on into a wall. I didn't expect the ending to be all lovey-happy-dappy, but Dylan intoxicated Irem with alcohol and then raped her, and then she killed herself. I mean, wtf? When she comes back to her parents crying about being raped, her mother coldly turns her away, and her father actually contemplated killing her! I was hoping for some sort of solution that while not perfect, was workable, and instead all i got was this. The only reason I didn't give this book just one star was because the writing/prose itself is good.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    The setting of this book is Turkey at the time of the 1999 earthquake. In the book, a Muslim Kurdish family has been displaced and is living in an apartment building below an American family. The teenage daughter of the Muslim has fallen in love with the American boy and is feeling very jealous of her little brother who seems to be the favorite of her parents. The earthquake forces the family to live in a tent city created by American missionaries and the things become very difficult for the fat The setting of this book is Turkey at the time of the 1999 earthquake. In the book, a Muslim Kurdish family has been displaced and is living in an apartment building below an American family. The teenage daughter of the Muslim has fallen in love with the American boy and is feeling very jealous of her little brother who seems to be the favorite of her parents. The earthquake forces the family to live in a tent city created by American missionaries and the things become very difficult for the father because he fears that his son is being converted to Christianity. His daughter is also struggling with her religion as she falls further in love with the American boy. This novel ends tragically causing the reader to ponder the unfortunate barriers that are created by religion and intolerance. Overall a very interesting read. I could possibly use it in AP English as a study of cultures and the students might relate to it because of the teenage love story. I would suggest this to anyone interested in considering different cultures—someone who enjoyed The Kite Runner would also like this book. It is well written and the story moves quickly.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Nikki

    This was a really lovely, intricate kind of book. The setting was wonderfully portrayed--we as Americans want to think of Turkey in very romantic, exotic terms. Istanbul! Mosques! The gateway between Europe and Asia! We get all of those things, but in a matter-of-fact kind of way; it IS beautiful, but it's also a real place with real people, with a dark side, with complicated politics, with ugliness. The characters were much like that as well--their relationships complicated and fraught with pro This was a really lovely, intricate kind of book. The setting was wonderfully portrayed--we as Americans want to think of Turkey in very romantic, exotic terms. Istanbul! Mosques! The gateway between Europe and Asia! We get all of those things, but in a matter-of-fact kind of way; it IS beautiful, but it's also a real place with real people, with a dark side, with complicated politics, with ugliness. The characters were much like that as well--their relationships complicated and fraught with problems in the wake of the earthquake. My heart absolutely broke for Irem--it was evident her parents loved her but didn't know what to do with her growing up and becoming a young woman in an uncertain world. It was also evident that she felt incredibly alone and abandoned. I struggled some with the way her story ended. It made sense, yes, but I am unsure about Dylan's part in it. Did he truly love her? Was he just a Western boy taking advantage of a Kurdish girl? Was he, too, lost and alone? I think that is, perhaps, one of the most enduring themes of this book: people feeling abandoned by those who are supposed to take care of them.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Fredsky

    For me, this book is a 3.5. A family of Kurdish Muslims living in a small town outside Istanbul becomes entangled, disagreeably, with a family of American Ex-Pat Christian teachers. A deadly earthquake wipes out much of the village in the opening chapters of this book, and everything we know is suddenly upside down. The Muslim father abandons his wife and daughter for four days while searching for his son. When the son is found alive, sheltered in deep rubble by the body of the Christian wife, S For me, this book is a 3.5. A family of Kurdish Muslims living in a small town outside Istanbul becomes entangled, disagreeably, with a family of American Ex-Pat Christian teachers. A deadly earthquake wipes out much of the village in the opening chapters of this book, and everything we know is suddenly upside down. The Muslim father abandons his wife and daughter for four days while searching for his son. When the son is found alive, sheltered in deep rubble by the body of the Christian wife, Sinan, the boy's father, is indebted to her widower. This debt is never resolved between them. The American son and Sinan's daughter develop a secret relationship, great trouble follows, and still nothing can be resolved. For many reasons this was a painful book to read. Yet, in a way, it was an easy read. It's well written. My sympathies were with neither, or possibly all sides at once.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Diane

    Beautifully written, sensitive novel about a Kurdish family living near Istanbul, whose lives are thrown into chaos by the arrival of an American family, and a devastating earthquake shortly thereafter. The Kurdish family has a teenage daughter, who falls in love with the American family's son, and the book deals with the resulting cultural clash. I really liked the character development in the book. The writer never relies on stereotypes, and even the supporting characters are well-drawn. He doe Beautifully written, sensitive novel about a Kurdish family living near Istanbul, whose lives are thrown into chaos by the arrival of an American family, and a devastating earthquake shortly thereafter. The Kurdish family has a teenage daughter, who falls in love with the American family's son, and the book deals with the resulting cultural clash. I really liked the character development in the book. The writer never relies on stereotypes, and even the supporting characters are well-drawn. He does a particularly good job with the father in the Kurdish family, explaining his pain at having to leave his home in southeast Turkey to go to Istanbul, and his fears for his childrens' futures. The plot also moves along quickly, much more so than is normal in novels of this type. The book is also very descriptive, and draws you in to the setting of the novel.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Nick

    This book was selected for our city's "One City, One Story" event for 2010, so I picked it up. It reminded me very much of The Kite Runner, in a good way. Both are grim but gripping tales of another culture, and in this case, the story involved a fictionalized version of a real event, at which the author was present. It's hard enough surviving the physical and emotional upheaval of a natural disaster, but what if the aftermath threatens to destroy your entire family? The book involves cultural di This book was selected for our city's "One City, One Story" event for 2010, so I picked it up. It reminded me very much of The Kite Runner, in a good way. Both are grim but gripping tales of another culture, and in this case, the story involved a fictionalized version of a real event, at which the author was present. It's hard enough surviving the physical and emotional upheaval of a natural disaster, but what if the aftermath threatens to destroy your entire family? The book involves cultural differences and prejudices: old vs. young, Turkish vs. Kurdish vs. American, Christian vs. Muslim, modern vs. old-fashioned vs. ultra-conservative... While the attitudes and cultural differences will put off some readers, their reality in our own world make this an important read.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Pam

    I read this book because it has been chosen as the Pasadena's 2010 One City, One Story book. I really enjoyed this story of two families and two faiths both living in Turkey. One family who is Kurd and Muslim and the other American and Christian. After a catastrophic earthquake, Sinan and his family are forced to live as refugees while the Americans enlist themselves to help these refugees. Consequently, Sinan's daughter, Irem falls in love with Dylan, the American boy. Their love defies all of I read this book because it has been chosen as the Pasadena's 2010 One City, One Story book. I really enjoyed this story of two families and two faiths both living in Turkey. One family who is Kurd and Muslim and the other American and Christian. After a catastrophic earthquake, Sinan and his family are forced to live as refugees while the Americans enlist themselves to help these refugees. Consequently, Sinan's daughter, Irem falls in love with Dylan, the American boy. Their love defies all of what Sinan and his family's culture has taught and made him to believe. This book is about respect, different generations, clashing of faiths, traditionalism and modernism. I would recommend this book to everyone.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Tamara Silver

    Interesting to read a book that takes place in Turkey and the writing was fair, but the story felt stuffed into vignettes where the author thought to himself, "ok, now I'm going to explain how a worshipper feels when tourists tromp through their holy building", or "now I'm going to tell why a mother would support the subjugation of their daughter". It felt as if he had mental note cards of situations that he laced together with a plot-line instead of having a compelling plot and finding situatio Interesting to read a book that takes place in Turkey and the writing was fair, but the story felt stuffed into vignettes where the author thought to himself, "ok, now I'm going to explain how a worshipper feels when tourists tromp through their holy building", or "now I'm going to tell why a mother would support the subjugation of their daughter". It felt as if he had mental note cards of situations that he laced together with a plot-line instead of having a compelling plot and finding situations to support it. Still, not a bad read and I feel like I learned about Islam and the fizz the variety of beliefs and people causes in Turkey.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    Well, I was 100 pages in and then lost the book for about 3 weeks. I found it under the front seat of my car (where I swear I looked before!) and am about 2/3 of the way through. Interesting story - kind of a Turkish Romeo and Juliet with Kurds and Americans, but the writing is very simplistic. A good book for YA readers.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Georgia

    In his acknowledgments, he thanks the friend who helped him translate Radiohead lyrics into Turkish. Whatever conclusions you might draw from that are probably wrong. This book is shockingly sad -- impossible love, inescapable cultural boundaries...

  30. 4 out of 5

    Wendy

    I learned a lot about Turkey and enjoyed the storytelling of Alan Drew. I especially enjoyed the second half of the book. The perspective of the Kurds was an interesting one and something I wanted to learn more about so I appreciated that aspect of the novel.

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