Thursday, January 29, 2009

Book Review: Sarah's Key

Although it began with an abandoned book and then one I barely made it through, January has ended up being a phenomenal book month. First there was The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, then The Other Side of the Bridge, and now Titiana de Rosnay's wonderful Sarah's Key. How can the next 11 months compete?

Sarah's Key tells the story of Julia Jarmond, an American journalist living in Paris, as she does research for an article about the virtually unknown 1942 round-up (called the "Vel d'Hiv incident") of French Jews by the French authorities. Jarmond is horrified to discover that these 13,000 men, women, and children were sent to their deaths in Auschwitz. During her research she finds that her in-laws have a link to one of the Jewish families, and her investigation reveals a terrible discovery.

Alternating chapters with Julia's modern-day story is the story of Sarah Strazynski, a 10-year-old Jewish girl in 1942. Sarah attends school, wears pretty clothes, and takes piano lessons as most of her French friends do and hasn't the slightest idea why she must wear the yellow star upon her clothing—and why that makes her different. One summer day her world is shattered when her family is torn apart by the Vel d'Hiv. Sarah's courage and resourcefulness save her for awhile.

Ultimately the two stories intersect and become one. de Rosnay is a wonderful writer. Her characters are crafted well and she envokes compassion without ever being sentimental. After reading this I'm curious as to find out more about Vel d'Hiv and also to find more books by de Rosnay.

Other Reviews of Sarah's Key:
Gautami at the Reading Room here
She Is Too Fond of Books here
Caribous Mom here
A Reader's Respite here

6 comments:

Natasha @ Maw Books said...

Loved this book! I'm so glad you enjoyed it too (well, as much as one can say enjoyed about a book like this).

eileensblog said...

Sounds great! My 2009 TBR list is growing fast!!!! And I haven't read all of my 2007 and 2007 TBRs. Too many books, not enough time!

Joy said...

I agree about the other two books you mentioned and I can't wait to read this book. Thanks for the encouragement! :)

Marbel said...

I just put in a request for this at the library - there is a long wait! I hope to get it and read it soon. After reading A Thread of Grace a few months ago, this sounds good to me.

Marg said...

I am hoping to get my hands on this book eventually! It sounds like something I would really enjoy.

Anna said...

My husband bought me this one for Christmas. I can't wait to read it, as I've heard a lot of good things about it and it's perfect for our WWII challenge. Would it be okay for me to post a link to your review on the book reviews page at War Through the Generations?

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric