Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Sarah's Key

Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay has been out for a couple years but is quickly gaining in popularity with the recent release of the movie based on the novel. It is a work of fiction based on events that took place during World War II in France. In July of 1942, over 14,000 French Jews were rounded up and kept for 6 days in the Velodrome d'Hiver, an arena that previously held bike races. After those terrible days with no food, water or facilities, the families were transported to concentration camps. The parents were then split from their children and both groups were eventually killed. The roundup was carried out not by the Nazis, but by the French police.

Sarah was an 11 year old Jewish girl who was taken with her mother and father during the Vel d'Hiv. She hid her brother Michael in a secret cupboard in their apartment and locked him away for safety, thinking they would return and continue on with their lives. Desperate, Sarah implores others to help her and tries to escape at every opportunity to save her brother.

Present-day journalist Julia Jarmond is renovating an apartment with her French husband, Bertrand, for them to live in with their daughter, Zoe. She is assigned a story about the 60th anniversary of the Vel d'Hiv that is approaching. During her research, she learns of Sarah's plight and a strange connection between the two. Determined to find out what happened to Sarah, Julies delves into a world that she maybe shouldn't venture. But, she must know.

This was an extremely interesting and sad story. Sarah's Key's chapters go back and forth between the unveiling of Sarah's past and Julia's present. Sarah tells her story as Julia researches the horrendous accounts of this heart wrenching incident that most do not know about and nobody wants to remember. De Rosnay marries the two in a compelling juxtaposition. I find historical fiction fascinating and Sarah's Key did not disappoint. Give it a try. I couldn't put it down. Thanks, Mom, for loaning it to me.

Rating: * * * *

P.S. I do believe I've read more historical fiction than chick list this year. Ooo eeee, what's up with that?

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