Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Review: Sarah's Key (Tatiana de Rosnay)

Title: Sarah's Key
Author: Tatiana de Rosnay
Genre: Adult (and YA) historical fiction
Pages: 293
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Challenges: Reading from my Shelves (I will donate to my school library)
FTC Disclosure: I received this book as a gift
Summary (from the inside flap of the book): Paris, July 1942: Sarah, a ten-year-old girl, is taken with her parents by the French police as they go door-to-door arresting Jewish families in the middle of the night. Desperate to protect her younger brother, Sarah locks him in a bedroom cupboard--their secret hiding place--and promises to come back for him as soon as they are released.

Sixty years later: Sarah's story intertwines with that of Julia Jarmond, an American journalist investigating the roundup. In her research, Julia stumbles onto a trail of secrets that link her to Sarah, and to questions about her own romantic future.

Review: This is such a good book! I have been reading quite a bit about it around the blogosphere and since it is Holocaust Remembrance week I thought it was fitting to read it now. I am so glad that I did. It pulled me in from the beginning and didn't let go.

The chapters in this book alternate between Sarah's story of abduction by the French police and subsequent deportation with her parents to the Velodrome de Hiver (stadium in Paris) and Julia's story of historical and self discovery. Both stories are compelling on their own, but together they are most powerful. Sarah, at ten, is old enough to understand and communicate, yet young enough to pull at our hearts. Julia is middle-aged and able to feel empathy, sympathy, and to understand the impact her investigation may have on those around her. Both are on a journeys that will impact themselves and generations to come.

The history doesn't feel like history because the story is so well told. Even though I had an idea of what was coming for much of the story, it was still compelling and, when I was wrong, the story seemed so right. There is no nice, easy ending for either Julia or Sarah and that is the way it should be. A happy ending would have felt fake. That is not to say that there isn't hope in this book because there definitely is.

Geography Connection:

(photo credit for left photo)

Click to see my updated Google Map. Although I have read a ton about the Holocuast, none of the books I've read have been set in France so this was a nice change for me. Here are some books that are Holocaust related that I have read and reviewed:



16 comments:

reviewsbylola said...

This is one of those books I just know I have to read. Thanks for reminding me!

Helen's Book Blog said...

Lola--It really was very good and I keep thinking about it

Aths said...

I'm glad that you loved this. I haven't read this either but hope to pick it up this year!

Alyce said...

I still haven't read this one either, so I'm glad to see you liked it.

I just read Resistance by Agnes Humbert. It's the journal of a French woman who was one of the first members of the resistance in WWII and also covers her time in prison.

Lucy (The Secret Life of Books) said...

I loved this book. I have made all my friends read. It is so moving, stayed with me for days. I still think about it every now and again. I review it on my blog a few weeks ago.

Helen's Book Blog said...

Aths--this is your kind of book. Good characters, WWII, it's all in there

Alyce--Resistance sounds like another good one!

Lucy--I am definitely thinking about it after the fact and I think that's why I can't really get into my next book fully yet.

Liz said...

Not France, but a classic is The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom about her family's incarceration for resistance work in the Netherlands.

ham1299 said...

Excellent review. This is a fabulous story, and so heartbreaking! :-( This book haunted me for awhile.

Another awesome book from that time is Those Who Save Us. I can't remember the author's name, but it was fabulous, too. And haunting, too.

Helen's Book Blog said...

Liz--Thank you for the recommendation of The Hiding Place, I will add it to my list

Ham--Another great recommendation, thank you! It, too, is going on my list.

Amy said...

I have seen this book on several blogs but yours is the first full review I've read, Now I understand why it's getting such praise. What a fascinating, intriguing story. Poignant and troubling, too. The more fiction I read surrounding WWII the more I want to read. The stories are so compelling,engaging and mind-boggling. I'm putting this book on my tbr and hope to read it soon!

ham1299 said...

You are very welcome! :-)

Helen's Book Blog said...

Amy--You've used words that are perfect to describe this book: poignant, troubling, engaging, and compelling. I highly recommend it

Stevie Carroll said...

Instantly ordered from my library, thanks.

Helen's Book Blog said...

Stevie--Don't you just love it when you read a review and know that you instantly need to order/buy/reserve the book?! I hope you enjoy it

IntrovertedJen said...

I'm glad you liked this book! I have found it to be haunting.

Helen's Book Blog said...

Jen--Haunting is a great word for this book, it's still pops into my head at various times