Sarah’s Key – Tatiana De Rosnay

With the excitement of an impending break, I joyously fought the holiday traffic to visit Barnes and Noble for my perfect Christmas read. I was looking for a gripping story, and one that could be conquered in just a few days of reading. As I was scanning all of the titles, I came across one that seemed familiar. I remembered that I had actually seen the preview for the film adaptation a few months ago and had been absolutely curious about what the “key” was for — although apparently not curious enough to actually go see the movie…

Sarah’s Key is a wonderful story that tells two stories at first, alternating between the two in each chapter. One is in present day, and the other is a third person perspective of a fairly unknown historical event — when the French police rounded up all the Jews in Paris during the Holocaust, including children. This event was important because the Nazis had not yet mandated children be included in the round ups — to them, it was too obvious that their intentions involved extermination if young children were sent to “work camps.” So, the fact that the French police did this on their own was very significant, and a dark history that many people do not know about.

(Now, the book does be sure to state that the story itself is fiction, but that it is based on real accounts. So that is just something to keep in mind when/if you read it.)

The alternating chapters initially seem unrelated, as we learn about Sarah’s journey during the roundup and then the modern day journey of our main character, journalist Julia Jarmond. Julia receives an assignment form her editor to research the round up (Vel’ d’ Hiv) in preparation for its anniversary. Through her research, our two stories become linked — in more ways than you will expect.

This story was wonderful — I was completely absorbed and the suspense of finding out one secret after another was fascinating. It also whet my desire to read more about the Holocaust. I plan to read The Book Thief next, a book lent to me that is also about that time of our world’s dark history. I will say, the ending was not entirely believable and I was somewhat disappointed after the momentum gained in the early to middle chapters. I would definitely still recommend it is an interesting read and look forward to seeing the film.

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