Book Review: Sarah’s Key

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Author: Tatiana de Rosney

Pages: 294

Synopsis: Sarah’s Key follows two very different story lines. We start by following Sarah, a young 10-year old living in Paris, France during WWII with her parents and her little brother. In July of 1942, her along with her parents (she locked her brother in a cupboard for safety) and all other Jewish members of Paris are arrested by French police in what is known as the Vel’ d’Hiv’ roundup.

Move forward to 2005, where Julia, a 45 year old journalist is tasked with writing a story about the Vel’ d’Hiv’ and what happened near the anniversary of the roundup. Through her research, Julia learns about Sarah’s story and the connection it has with her French family. A story that will change Julia’s life and her family’s life forever.

Review: If you follow my blog, you know I read a lot about WWI and WWII. In fact, this is the 7th book this year alone that follows different stories as it relates to WWII. I’ve read about Italy, Russia, Poland, Germany and now France. Each with a totally different perspective on the war, but all with the same outcome — pain.

I read a lot on WWII because it’s always about an event that I didn’t read about in school and I feel like I can’t fully grasp everything that happened without reading these stories. This is a significant plot in Sarah’s Key. People have forgotten or they just don’t know about events that took place in France. That story line never leaves this book, it follows to the very end and becomes an important reminder to never forget.

This story reminded me a lot Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah and Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum in the sense that we follow two different stor ylines and see them diverge together. If you’ve read them and enjoyed them, I bet this would be another one you would enjoy. But that’s where the similarities end.

De Rosney finds a way to break your heart in more pieces than you thought imaginable. I have read a lot of stories on WWII, I thought I’ve read it all (how very wrong was I). This story doesn’t falter in it’s detail of the Vel’ d’Hiv’ roundup and the events that followed, it shows the inhumanity and the goodness all on one page. It speaks of the heroes and survivors. It reminds us that even after the War, the people who lived throughout it will never be the same, and for some it’s easier to forget than remember what happened. What was so interesting in this story was the beginning about Sarah, for most of her chapters you were never told her name (obviously we knew by the title), she was just known as “the girl”, which for many of Jewish descent was how they were viewed during WWII. For some reason this resonated more to me than anything else. It was a sad reminder of what people had to endure.

For more information on the Vel’ d’Hiv’ roundup, you can go to the link: https://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10008213

Then you have Julia, who is determined to not let the past be forgotten. Who, once she knows the story of the roundup and the French police involvement, she can’t stop thinking about the children and adults who perished. This is no longer a story for a journalist but a story for Julia and Julia alone, a story she must find the ending to, without she feels hollow. She is determined to find a way to let people who are still suffering from the aftereffects that there are people in this world that have not forgotten, who won’t forget. Her determination is one that is admirable. She doesn’t see these events as just that, she sees it for what it was.

My only critique of this story was all the involvement of Julia’s family. I actually enjoyed the family mystery and how it connected back to Sarah, it was interesting, it was a mystery and there were twists and turns I didn’t see coming. What I didn’t like was what I felt as an unnecessary story line (I’m sure others disagree). I won’t spoil what I mean by this, it also didn’t ruin the story for me, I could have just lived without it. In fact, I’m happy I read it, I’m happy I now know yet another tragedy from the War that I did not know before, because we should never forget.

Have you read Sarah’s Key? Or any of the other stories listed above? If so, comment below!

Overall Rating: 4/5 stars

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