Paris, July 1942: Sarah, a ten year-old girl, is brutally arrested with her family by the French police in the Vel’ d’Hiv’ roundup, but not before she locks her younger brother in a cupboard in the family's apartment, thinking that she will be back within a few hours.
Paris, May 2002: On Vel’ d’Hiv’s 60th anniversary, journalist Julia Jarmond is asked to write an article about this black day in France's past. Through her contemporary investigation, she stumbles onto a trail of long-hidden family secrets that connect her to Sarah. Julia finds herself compelled to retrace the girl's ordeal, from that terrible term in the Vel d'Hiv', to the camps, and beyond. As she probes into Sarah's past, she begins to question her own place in France, and to reevaluate her marriage and her life.
My thoughts:I have had Sarah’s Key recommended to me by several friends, and so I actually went to a bookstore to buy a copy. (This is not something I do often, I'm usually a library kind of girl.) For some reason it ended up sitting in my bookshelf for a couple of months, but then yesterday I was finally out of library books and brought Sarah’s Key to work with me. Luckily the kids decided that yesterday was a good day for a 3,5 hour long nap; perfect for reading.
I love that Sarah’s Key tells a little known story from the Holocaust, of how the French police and authorities arrested over 13 000 jews during two nights in a raid code named “Operation Spring Breeze”. Out of these 13 000, 5800 were women and over 4000 were children, and they were all eventually sent to Auschwitz for execution. The youngest child sent to Auschwitz was only 18 months old. For decades after World War II the French government tried to pretend this never happened, until Jacques Chirac in 1995 finally gave a public speech acknowledging it, fifty-three years after the roundup.
Sarah’s Key is incredibly well written, and I was completely lost in the story from the first chapter. The language is simple and on the spot, and especially the chapters about Sarah have such a raw feeling to them that I found myself crying more than once. There were times when I was very annoyed with Julia; why did she have to keep digging in things better left forgotten? But by the end it all came together, and it was really the only way it could have ended.
My rating of this book:
Want a second opinion? Check out these reviews from some of my book blogging friends:
Want to know more?
Add Sarah's Key to your Goodreads wishlist
Visit Tatiana de Rosnay's website
Follow Tatiana on Twitter
Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
Published: September 30 2008
Pages (paperback): 293
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
ISBN: 0312370849 (ISBN13: 9780312370848
Full disclosure: Purchased at my local indie bookstore