Thursday, October 6, 2011

Book Review: Sarah's Key

Star Rating: 5/5

Sarah’s Key

By: Tatiana de Rosnay

When Julia Jarmond is assigned to write an article about the sixtieth anniversary commemoration of the Vel d’Hiv roundup, she becomes consumed by her work. Though American, Julia has spent the past 25 years in Paris. Regardless of her time in France, she has little to no knowledge about the horrors committed against the Jews by the French during and surrounding the roundup. More disturbing to her even than her lack of knowledge is the indifference of her French husband and of some of those she interviews. Julia wonders how such events could take place and why so little was done about them. Then on a routine visit to her husband’s ailing grandmother, Julia unexpectedly finds out that her in-laws moved into their apartment in July 1942—the same month the roundup forced thousands of Jews from their homes. Could the apartment have possibly belonged to one of those Jewish families? Haunted by this idea, Julia delves deeper and finds herself linked to the tragic events of 1942. The more she discovers the more she realizes how long she’s kept her eyes closed and decides that she can not and will not close them again.

Tatiana de Rosnay presents a beautifully written, heart-wrenching story that illustrates how the past, present, and future are interwoven. Alternating between two perspectives, she leads the reader through the events and effects of the Vel d’Hiv roundup. The main narrator is Julia, the middle-aged journalist. Julia’s perspective in the present mirrors the readers with her discoveries. The other narrator is Sarah, a ten year-old Jewish girl from 1942. Sarah’s perspective from the past brings the Vel d’Hiv to life. While Sarah causes the reader to feel the horrors as they occurred in the eyes of the children who experienced them, Julia causes the reader to question their own knowledge of their circumstances and the world around them. Together Sarah’s and Julia’s stories make the Vel d’Hiv roundup tangible, touching our lives and our hearts. Most importantly, however, Sarah’s Key prompts us to question ourselves, open our eyes, and act.

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