Saturday, 4 September 2010

Sarah's Key, Tatiana de Rosnay

I've read some good books this summer, and Sarah's Key was one of them.  

This is Tatiana de Rosnay's first book. While fiction, the story depicts the events of WWII in France and the horrific arrest of the Jewish people who were taken to the Vélodrome d'Hiver later to Auschwitz. This horrible event occurred on July 16, 1942.

De Rosnay takes her readers on a journey that alternates between the story of Sarah, a ten year-old girl who is arrested with her family and Julia Jarmond a journalist living in Paris who has been assigned to write about the anniversary sixty years later.

Sarah's story that begins with the brutal arrest of her family is augmented by the fact that at the time of the arrest, Sarah made the decision to save her brother by locking him in a hidden cupboard, thinking she would be back in a few hours. The horror of her experiences made harsher as she finds herself unable to go back and save her brother.

At the Vélodrome d'Hiver where Sarah and her family are taken, they and thousands of other French citizens, Jews all, were locked in with almost no food or water, hardly any place to sleep, and absolutely no toilet facilities. Old people died, babies died, newborns died or were born dead - and all of this happened without a German in sight; the French government was entirely in charge of the operation. Just when it seemed that things could get no worse, parents were separated from their children, no matter how young the children were, never to be seen again. Unimaginable as it is, the several thousand children were left on their own in the same conditions they had suffered with their parents.

Julia Jarmond's story is not horrific, but she has her own difficult journey to follow as she researches the events of the Vélodrome d'Hiver and discovers the story of Sarah.Sarah’s Key is about bigotry, collaboration, hatred, and looking the other way when evil presents itself. It is a horrible reminder of what supposedly good people are capable of in times of war - especially the willingness to turn on fellow citizens and neighbors of a different religion.

The first half of the book is much more intense than the second half. However, the second part is still very good. In any case, by the second half you are drawn into the story and more than willing to finish the book.

It's a good book, I hope you read it.

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