Thursday, February 19, 2009

Sarah's Key

by Tatiana de Rosnay
Author Website: Note: Most of the website is in French.

Available in several languages and format. Click here for the English paperback version. St. Martins Griffin, 2008; ISBN: 0312370849; 320 pages.

This international bestseller encompasses two stories told decades apart, but joined in the present.

Julia is a journalist and an American-born Parisian, disatisfied in her marriage, yet inexpicably addicted to her husband. As she, her husband and their 11-year-old daughter prepare to move into a new apartment, Julia is assigned a new article, one about the Vel d'Hiv roundup of 1942.

Sarah is an eleven-year-old Jewess living in Paris, France, in 1942. When the national police bang on their door early one morning, Sarah safely locks her four-year-old brother in a cabinet then takes the key, planning to return later to rescue him. Her story continues in parallel with Julia's as the two come to grips with who they are in their time, as they discover how to best survive their circumstances and the repercussions of their decisions.

The author provides an excellent juxtoposition of stories. She did a great job telling two stories equally. Rather than diminishing one more than the other, the simultaneous storytelling worked very well. Sarah's story offered great constrast and perspective, almost as a commentary of sorts, to the modern-day story of Julia. The tie-ins worked beautifully. While vastly different stories, together they encouraged a high value of life, marriage, family, and understanding. Furthermore, this book informs readers about a lesser-known event in history. I have read several WW2 books and novels. This is the first that thoroughly depicts the Vel d'Hiv.

Final Thoughts: This was a great study in contrasts, an argument toward the relevancy of history. The descriptions were amazing. Once I started reading, I couldn't put it down.

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