This is a very intense and rewarding read. Alan Drew creates such a realistic picture of how two families cope in the aftermath of the Marmara Earthquake. Sinan is a Kurd who fled his beloved village in the south east to try to find work and a safe haven for his family, wife Nulifer and daughter Irem and son Ismail. We meet them as the family is about to celebrate Ismail's circumcision ceremony. They have the dilemma about whether to invite their neighbours - an American family Marcus, Susan and their son Dylan. The cultural divide is obvious and is even more intense for Sinan as he blames the American's for his father's murder. As the story unfolds we see that Dylan and Irem already have a friendship developing. Irem is flattered by the attentions of this American boy and is painfully aware of the privileged position her younger brother has in her parents' affections. Then the earthquake hits and everything cahnges for both families. Susan and Ismail are buried beneath the rubble and it is her sacrrifice for Ismail that immediately brings both families together and sets them against each other at the same time.
The themes in the novel are so well explored. Alan Drew skillfully explores the issues of faith, family and traditions. His characters are honestly portrayed. I recommend this novel to high school students.
Also Alan Drew has his own website for the novel - Gardens of Water