Thursday, July 8, 2010

Sarah's Key by Tatiana De Rosnay

Genre: fiction
Pages: audio
Challenges: What's in a Name?3, audio book
Author's Website (it's in french though), here's a website for Sarah's Key
My rating: 3.75/5

Simple Description:
Julie Jarmond is an American living in France and married to a French man.  She is a journalist for an American magazine.  She is assigned an article on the Vél' d'Hiv' roundup that occurred in France 60 years ago.   The roundup occurred during WWII, in 1942.  French police rounded up many Jewish families in one night and the parents ended up being deported to Auschwitz while the kids went to a camp in France.   Julie soon learns that the apartment she is about to move in to, that has been in her family for 60 years, was once inhabited by one of these Jewish families.

Julie researches this family.  She finds that Sarah was an 11 year old girl who survived.  She wants to know what happened to Sarah, what is Sarah's story, is Sarah still alive?    

In between learning about Julia and what she is going through, such as a cheating husband, a pregnancy in her 40's, and learning more about herself, we also get Sarah's story.

On the night that Sarah's family was taken into custody her little brother was left in the apt, locked in a cupboard.  Sarah thought she would be going back later that night to let him out, if only she had known this wasn't the case.  We relive the terrible weeks when Sarah was separated from her family and sent to a concentration camp, and how she escaped.  We learn what happened to Sarah after she escaped and how she is tied to Julia's French family.

Now what you really want to thoughts:
I thought this was a wonderful book.  I enjoy reading about books with a WWII theme and this one was different than others I've read because it deals with the roundup in France, something I have never heard of before.  I liked how the story goes back and forth between Julia and Sarah.  We get Julia's perspective of an American living in France..wondering how it is the French she asks don't usually remember learning about this.  How could they just forget something like this happened? I thought it was an interesting struggle for Julia.  Not only does she wonder how it is most French don't remember this, but she has to deal with her own family not wanting to talk about it or even being interested in it.    We get Sarah's story..during the roundup and after it.  We learn what she had to go through and you can just imagine what the kids who really went through it must have felt.   I just can't imagine.

There were some parts where I wished we didn't get so much info about Julia and what she was going through, but I also know that Julia is important to the story and part of this story is seeing how learning about Sarah changes Julia.

I think this is going to be one of those books that I think about for several days after finishing it.  I did look up the Vel' d'Hive roundup online and found this website that has more info.

I did listen to the audio version of this book.  Polly Stone is the narrator. I thought she was a wonderful pick for Julia.  It was very easy to understand her, she appeared American, however she could pronounce all the French words and names with an accent that made the story that much better - as if Julia really was telling me this story.  

This audio book was rented from my local library.


Anonymous said...

This was such a heartbreaking, but very good book. Sounds like the audio version is worth giving a try.

I'll get your link on War Through the Generations soon.

bermudaonion said...

This book sounds so good to me. I love books about World War II and the French setting is a bonus.

Kris said...

Diary of an eccentric - I agree, it was heartbreaking at times, not only due to things that happened to Sarah, but some of the things Julia has to go through too.

Bermudaonion - I bet you would like this one. I loved the French setting too.