Gardens of Water Summary & Study Guide

Alan Drew
This Study Guide consists of approximately 42 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Gardens of Water.
This section contains 784 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Gardens of Water Study Guide

Gardens of Water Summary & Study Guide Description

Gardens of Water Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion on Gardens of Water by Alan Drew.

"Gardens of Water" is a 2008 novel written by American author Alan Drew. The book takes place just before and following the 1999 Marmara, or Izmit, earthquake in Turkey. Alan Drew was in Istanbul when the devastating earthquake hit and was living in Turkey as an English literature teacher. The book is a work of fiction based on the people that Alan Drew met and his understanding of Turkish customs and the Islamic religion. The characters of Sinan and his family deal with issues that Alan Drew saw amongst many Turkish families following the tragic earthquake that killed 17,000 and left over half a million people homeless.

When the book begins, Sinan and his son Ismail are returning to Gölcük after spending the day in Istanbul. It is the day of Ismail's circumcision and the pre-teen boy is nervous. Everyone showers Ismail with attention, giving him free food and congratulating him. This makes his older sister Irem jealous. She spends every day at home with her mother Nilufer, cleaning and cooking and keeping her head covered with a scarf to show her modesty. Irem loves her little brother but wishes that she too had the freedom and adoration from her parents. Her rebellion shows through in a harmless relationship that she has with her American neighbor Dylan who lives in the apartment above hers. They talk to each other at their windows, despite the scandal it would cause if either set of parents found out.

Several hours after Ismail's circumcision and party, an earthquake hits in the middle of the night. Sinan is awake and sitting on his roof when the quake hits and he can see the devastation throughout the city of Gölcük. He is separated from his son, daughter and wife. Four days pass before Sinan can locate his son under the rubble. Ismail is alive, but barely, protected by the arms of the American mother from the apartment above who is now dead. Once Ismail is found, Sinan realizes that he has not bothered to find his wife or daughter in the four days that have passed and he and Ismail set out to find them. The family is reunited and moves into a tent on the outskirts of town.

With no food, clean water or home, Sinan and his family eventually move into the American relief camp that has been set up. Sinan is reluctant to take any charity from Americans — who he finds deplorable — but his family faces starvation without the help. Sinan manages to find a job at a large grocery store that takes him over an hour to reach each day. Nilufer spends her time in the tent, cleaning and keeping an eye on the children. Ismail begins playing soccer with the other boys in camp and Irem starts finding secret ways to see her American boy, Dylan. Rumors begin to spread in the camp about Irem's immodesty and it leads to tension in her family. Irem views her meetings with Dylan as innocent but simply being seen with him is considering improper by the other people living in the village.

Eventually the pressure becomes too great, and Irem and Dylan run away together. They go to his family home in Istanbul and Irem soon finds that she is unhappy outside of her comfortable surroundings. She does not fit in with Dylan's fast crowd of friends. After a night of drinking and dancing, Dylan and Irem have sex. Irem is so ashamed when she wakes up in the morning that she leaves Dylan to return to her family. She pleads with her family to take her back but her parents are cold and unwilling to listen. On a walk with her father, Irem admits that she lost her virginity to Dylan and that she is ashamed of it. Sinan realizes that his daughter will only bring shame to his family if she returns, and he tells her that she is no longer welcome there. When she cries and pleads with her father to stay, he shows her a knife in his hand. Irem sees that she can no longer return home and she runs away again. Later that night, she jumps off a bridge and kills herself.

The story of Irem's suicide is front-page news, and Sinan goes with the police to find her body. He struggles with the guilt of knowing that he drove her to her fate. As the book ends, Sinan, Nilufer and Ismail are on a train heading to Sinan's homeland in the country. Sinan has hope that his family can have a new start away from Gölcük and the ghosts of their past.

Read more from the Study Guide

This section contains 784 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Gardens of Water Study Guide
Gardens of Water from BookRags. (c)2022 BookRags, Inc. All rights reserved.