Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sarah's Key

Sarah's Key was definitely not at all what I expected it to be. In case you haven't found out by now..I don't really do a lot of research on the books I purchase. I literally judge books by their covers.. and titles... and sometimes I'll get a vague idea about the book and if it interests me I will buy it. Which is kind of how Sarah's Key came to me. I had seen the book on my Amazon Recommendations and the story seemed interesting enough. Jewish girl, Holocaust, secret key. So I was surprised when the book wasn't really based on the Holocaust, at least what we know of it.

The story is about two women whos lives intersect 60 years later. 11 year old Sarah and 40 year old Julia. Julia is an American, who is married to a Frenchmen and has lived in Paris for twenty-five years. She is also a journalist who is assigned to write an article on the Vel d'hiv round up. While doing research she finds a connection between her in-laws and Sarah. So a whole search to find out what happened to Sarah commences. For the 1st 150 pages we go back a forth between Sarah's story and Julia's, but then Sarah's story abruptly stops and we just see Julia's story. I really didn't like this because the first 150 pages the story was so profound and haunting. I was in tears for most of that period and once that stopped, I felt the book just became very generic. I lost my connection to Sarah. (Although I do see why the author made that choice)

Those 150 pages shook me, cause we know the typical tale of the Holocaust but there are so many small stories we don't hear and Vel d'hiv is one of them. If you don't know Vel d'hiv  was a giant round up of Jewish families on July 16th 1942. What makes this a little more unique then the average round up is that the round up was done by the French Police, not German soldiers.  It is something that is not mentioned a lot cause the French don't like to acknowledge that they had some role in the Holocaust (although yes, the order for the round up did come from the Germans). Until this book I never knew about this.

Overall, the book was good. Although, at times predictable, it still maintained a realistic feel. There is a very French VS American feel in this book and I really could not stand Julia's husband, I also wasn't a huge fan of older Sarah.. although again I empathize with her. I think I didn't like her, mainly because that connection had been lost. I can't say much cause the book is specifically written to keep some things out till the end. I would like to read Tatiana De Rosnay's second book A Secret Kept, but I hope it doesn't fall short as I feel this book did. I feel I needed to know more, just like Julia. Maybe that was the De Rosnay's intention?

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