“The Sandcastle Girls” among three finalists of One Book—One Lincoln

The Sandcastle Girls by American Armenian writer Chris Bohjalian has been selected as one of the three finalists for the 12th annual One Book—One Lincoln, the Lincoln Journal Star reports.

The selection committee of 18 started with 151 books, pared down to 75 for reading. Each volunteer read 17 to 27 books during the process of picking the final three, said David Smith, chair of the One Book—One Lincoln selection committee.

And the final decision is up to the rest of Lincoln’s avid readers, who can read and vote until July 26. Voting is done online or with a paper ballot available at libraries, according to Pat Leach, Lincoln Libraries director.

The two other finalists are: “The Round House” by Louise Erdrich and “The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry” by Rachel Joyce.

Here is a description of each book:

* The Sandcastle Girls. Elizabeth, who has a crash course in nursing and only the most basic grasp of the Armenian language, has volunteered on behalf of the Boston-based Friends of Armenia to help deliver food and medical aid to refugees of the 1915 Armenian genocide. There, Elizabeth becomes friendly with Armen, a young Armenian engineer who has already lost his wife and infant daughter.

Almost a century later, Laura Petrosian, a novelist living in suburban New York who has never really given her Armenian heritage much thought, embarks on a journey back through her family’s history that reveals love, loss — and a wrenching secret that has been buried for generations.

* The Round House. A Native American woman is raped somewhere in the vicinity of a sacred round house. This occurs on reservation land, where tribal courts are in charge, but the suspect is white, and tribal courts can’t prosecute non-Native people.

Federal law also would seem to apply, but the rape may have taken place on a strip of land that is part of a state park, where North Dakota’s authority is in force, or on another that was sold by the tribe and is thus considered “fee land,” administered under a separate tangle of statutes.

The 13-year-old boy whose mother was raped pursues his own quest for justice. Narrating this gripping story years later, having himself become a public prosecutor, Joe shows how a seemingly isolated crime has many roots.

* The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. One day Harold receives a letter from an old acquaintance, Queenie Hennessy. Queenie is dying at a hospice that is 627 miles north of Harold’s home near the English Channel.

When Harold reads the letter, he responds with a tearful “I um. Gosh.” Harold writes her a postcard and walks down the road to mail it, but keeps on walking.

Harold (whose story was in part inspired by the terminal illness of the author’s father) will walk the entire length of England in hope of keeping Queenie alive.

One Book – One Lincoln is a community reading project co-sponsored by Lincoln City Libraries. The program encourages all adults in Lincoln and Lancaster County to read and discuss the same book at the same time. The goal of the program is to encourage reading and dialogue by creating a community-wide reading and discussion experience.

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