This month’s book club read was a good one. We read Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay.
When I first heard that it was about the French round up during WWII, I kind of shuddered. I am not a fan of history/war stuff. I am also deeply saddened by holocaust stuff and so I don’t often pick up books about it. My desire to read it was almost curbed completely when Lauren wrote a review about it and said it was really sad. After a pep talk from her and her willingness to give me spoilers if I couldn’t get into it, I picked it up and began reading.
And the first few pages had me hooked.
This book was truly wonderful and though it was sad, the end was redeeming. It opens with the chapters flipping back and forth from the 1940’s with the story being told through the eyes of a young Jewish girl named Sarah and the early 2000’s and the story line being told by Julia, a writer doing a journal review on the roundup. Julia’s research specifically included the Velodrome d’Hiver where the Jews were initially held before being sent off to concentration camps.
As the French police come to get Sarah and her family, her four year old brother gets frightened and Sarah locks him in a cupboard to keep him safe from the police. She promises she will return to get him.
Meanwhile, Julia begins her Vel d’Hiv research and becomes entrenched in the horrors and stories that she learns from the round up. After interviewing people and reading multiple books, she finds out that her life is more connected to all of this than she realizes. Julia seems to connect with the pain and suffering of the roundup as she goes through some of her own personal darkest times and trials.
At some point in the book, the chapters merge and the rest of the story is told by Julia as she makes efforts to redeem the lives of some lost in the round up and to sort out the challenges of her life.
This story is extremely well and creatively written. I found myself on the edge of my seat as I turned the pages hoping and wishing for the “happy ending.” The book is full of emotion and a good read.