Jun 16, 2011

Sarah's Key

When Amber and I realized we were reading the same book at the same time, we thought it would be fun to swap places for the day to do our reviews. So please welcome Amber, and when you're done reading her review, hop over to her blog to read what I thought!

Hello Love Everyday Life readers, I'm Amber from Girl with the Red Hair. Becky and I both recently finished reading Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay so we have decided to blog swap for the day and share our thoughts on the book.

Excerpt from Goodreads: 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.

To be honest, when I started writing this review I sat here staring at the screen for a long time. This was an incredibly thought-provoking book that really gripped me emotionally. The numbers that are shared in the book about how many Jewish families were rounded up to go to Auschwitz are appalling. And, like many people, I had no idea this had happened. I was in Paris just over a year ago and if I had read this book before then I think I would have visited the monument remembering this horrific event and remembering the families who were sent to their deaths.

The horror that these families went through is recounted in the book in a way that pulled me in and gripped at my heart. It was tough to read at times because of this. I was horrified, yet I couldn't put the book down. The way de Rosnay wrote kept me turning page after page.

I became less happy with the book about halfway through and in my mind the first half of the book was much better than the second. I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads for this reason.

I would be interested in reading more Historical Fiction novels about the Vel d'Hiv' as I found it fascinating and it's clearly something the world should be more educated about. I didn't want to give away the book in my blog post, so I've grabbed two discussion questions that I thought would be interesting and if you've read the book please discuss your answers in the comments.

1. Sarah’s Key is composed of two different storylines—Sarah’s and Julia’s. Did you like the way this was set up or did you prefer one story over the other?
I definitely preferred Sarah's story over Julia's and would have preferred to read more of Sarah's story than what was shared in the book. The fact that this book shared a lot less of Sarah's story than Julia's is a big reason I only gave it 4 stars instead of 5.

2. What do you think the major theme of the novel is and how does the element of mystery weave into that?

I think my answer to this question might be a little bit of a spoiler - You've been warned!! I don't know if this is THE major theme of the novel, but a theme I saw weaved throughout is to fight for what you want. Sarah would not give up on getting back to her brother and Julia would not give up on her baby. The theme of death and grieving is obviously a huge theme in this book as well.

Have you read this book? Did you like it? Let me know what you thought and your answers to the above two questions in the comments!

Thanks Amber! Let us know what you think readers - and then head over to see what I thought about Sarah's Key. 


Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

I read and absolutely loved this book. It's one that I recommend to many people as it's just such an amazing book.

I actually liked both Sarah & Julia's story lines. I thought the author did an amazing job of going back and forth between the two narrators very seamlessly. It's been a couple of years since I read it, so some of the details are foggy, but this is def a book I will never forget.

Amber @ A Little Pink in the Cornfields said...

I cannot wait to read this book. I have had it from the library for two weeks now and haven't been able to get started on it. Once I am finished with the book I am currently reading I am hopefully going to devour this one!
Great review, Amber! :)

Suburban Sweetheart said...

I just bought this book! Looking forward to beginning it.

Leigh said...

I have the book on hold at the library, but there are probably 50 people in front of me! But once I get my turn, I can't wait to read it!

Amber said...

Yay I'm glad we blog swapped today! This was fun :)

pinkflipflops said...

I keep wanting to read this book, but have been holding out on my library to get it cuz I didn't want to buy yet another book until I have cleared my shelves..which is never gonna happen at this rate!

Amanda said...

This is the book I tell everyone to read when they ask for recommendations. I read it in 2009 and I still can't quite shake it. I think partly that is because I had been to the Vel d'Hiv monument and studied that when I lived in Paris.

Across the street from my place was a little "├ęcole maternelle" with a big black sign "in memory of the innocent little children who were deported simply because they were born Jewish, victims of the Nazi barbarism with the active complicity of the Vichy government and who died in the concentration camps." (rough translation) I think until that moment, decades of having "studied" WWII meant nothing and it finally came to life for me. It's still a school and little kids play there every day.

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