Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Book Review: Sarah's Key

There's nothing more relaxing then a good book. I just finished Sarah's key and I am so embarrassed to say that Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay has been sitting in my "to be read" pile for over 2 weeks. We took one of our many trips to Barnes and Noble because my husband is a reading freak and Uela refused to buy me another book until I finally got to my TBR pile. So this past weekend I escorted my grandmother to Oakland to catch her flight to Honolulu and I dug it from under my pile and threw it in my purse. I wasn't sure if it would be a book that I would love. I haven't always been fascinated with books about World War II, especially ones that deal with the Holocaust, they're just so depressing. Unfortunately this one got buried, and I kind of forgot about it! What a huge mistake because I thought this book was very, very good. This just further proves what I already know -- too many great books and not enough time to read them all. This book covered a horrific event in France history; and I hate to admit it, but I was absolutely clueless. Like everyone else in the world, I was aware of the Holocaust -- I just didn't know that almost 13,000 Jews were arrested in Paris on July 16th, 1942. These people were taken from their homes by French policemen under orders of the German Gestapo. Most of the adults were sent directly to concentration camps; however, some of the adults and children were moved to the Vél d’Hiv, an indoor stadium used for bicycle races. For almost a week, people were held here in horrific conditions until they were shipped out to concentration camps.

The beginning of this book just broke my heart. When the policeman came to round-up her family, Sarah, a 10 year old girl, locks her 4 year old brother, Michel in a closet and tells him that she'll be back for him soon. Unknown to her at the time, the French police are taking her and her parents to the Vél d’Hiv; and they have no plans to allow Sarah's family to go back home . The guilt that this young girl feels for leaving her brother just tore me apart. Michel is about Devyn's age and I actually felt sick as I read (and thought) about Sarah's pain. As a reader, I just kept wondering how much Sarah could handle; and I have to say that I couldn't stop thinking about this young child. The book also tells the story of Julia, an American journalist living in France 60 years later, who is researching the Vél d’Hiv incident for an article. Julia is amazed that she wasn't familiar with this part of France's history, and she soon finds out that most French people aren't comfortable discussing it. As she learns more about this awful time, she discovers that her husband's family has actual ties to a displaced family. As Julia's personal life becomes more complicated, she begins to get emotionally involved with the people she is researching; and she eventually starts to question her own life.

The author did an incredible job of weaving together the two stories. From the very first page, I was drawn into these characters' lives, and I had to know what happened to them (especially Sarah.) This book also had quite a few surprises in it which kept the reader guessing. Most of the characters were living with some type of secret; and I thoroughly enjoyed how Ms. de Rosnay "unlocked" each of these secrets. I thought she did an amazing job of tying together the stories and developing the symbolism of the key throughout the novel. After reading this I'm curious as to find out more about Vel d'Hiv and also to find more books by de Rosnay.


  1. sounds good...i stopped reading ur post when u got into detail about it, so i am def gonna add to my to-read list too...i havent had time to read so i'm long overdue and my list is growing like crazy~~~~~~~~

  2. Sounds like a very good book for me to go out and read...I love to read myself, but never find the time to read. I think I have one of them TBR piles somewhere...LOL.