Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
Paris, July 1942: Sarah, a ten year-old girl, is brutally arrested with her family by the French police in the Vel' d'Hiv' roundup, but not before she locks her younger brother in a cupboard in the family's apartment, thinking that she will be back within a few hours.
Paris, May 2002: On Vel' d'Hiv's 60th anniversary, journalist Julia Jarmond is asked to write an article about this black day in France's past. Through her contemporary investigation, she stumbles onto a trail of long-hidden family secrets that connect her to Sarah. Julia finds herself compelled to retrace the girl's ordeal, from that terrible term in the Vel d'Hiv', to the camps, and beyond. As she probes into Sarah's past, she begins to question her own place in France, and to reevaluate her marriage and her life.
When I started this book I knew it was Holocaust related. I knew it was set in that time, but the events of the story were unfamiliar to me. I had never once heard of the Vel' d'Hiv roundup. I recently googled it just to see what I could learn, and what a terrible, terrible tragedy. This book seems to give a good picture of what it was like, and showed that there were some, but not many, survivors.
When I started this book I wasn't sure what I thought about having two different viewpoints. The view of Sarah in 1942 was what I wanted the most. I wasn't sure what to think of Julia in 2002, but I grew to love it. It was interesting to see both because it showed just how tragic and hidden this event was. To Sarah it was her life. There was no way to move past the events and the incredibly terrible tragedies that came with the roundup. Julia had never heard of it, and realized that the family she married into as well as almost all of her French friends and co-workers had absolutely no idea that this had happened and some were in denial of it's happening. Her husband thought that whats in the past should stay there and never be brought back. Her research changed her life though, and that was very interesting to see.
The stories of these two intertwine and fit together beautifully. In some ways it was kind of obvious to see how they would fit together, but other parts of the story came as a surprise. This book is not just about the roundup. This story talks about so many other issues such as divorce, abortion, and more obviously tragic, secret pasts.
I really enjoyed this book. I've been on a historical fiction kind of kick lately. I've noticed that I've been particularly interested in Holocaust related stories. The stories are all so similar, yet so different and I feel like I will never truly understand what happened then. The only way for me to understand and sympathize is for me to read, so that is what I do. This particular book definitely fit in and gave me insight to an event in history that I did not even know about. It was shocking, and haunting. I definitely recommend anyone read this book. It was very good.
Now, onto what to read next. I'm not even sure where to start. I think I took a picture of my stack that does not even cover the few books in my room that I have not tackled yet or the books that are on my nook. It is so hard to choose, but I'm thinking something a little lighter in content than the dark times of the Holocaust. We shall see what I pick next.