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Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

Sarah's Key

After finishing The Rules of Attraction I was already decided as to what book I’d read next.  You see, while I was able to push through The Rules of Attraction, I had my doubts that I would be able to finish it and started researching books that sounded interesting.  I created a wish list of ones that caught my eye and included in this list was Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay.

Sarah’s Key has two plot lines that run parallel throughout the course of the novel.  The first plot is that of Sarah Starzynski, a young Jewish girl living in Nazi-occupied Paris with her family at the time of the Vel d’Hiv roundup.  On the night of the roundup before she and her parents are taken away, Sarah locks her younger brother in a secret closet thinking that her and her family will be back in a few hours.  The second plot follows Julia Jarmond, an American journalist living in Paris in 2002.  Julia has been assigned to write an article in remembrance of the Vel d’Hiv roundup on its 60th anniversary.  Horrified by the details she learns about such a dark time in France’s history, Julia is even more unsettled when she discovers a trail of family secrets that connects her to a young Jewish girl: Sarah Starzinski.

I usually find that having two plot lines that run parallel with alternating chapters only encourages me to keep reading more and more.  Sarah’s Key was no exception to this.  Following a chapter about Sarah, I’d immediately keep reading the next chapter about Julia in the hopes of getting to another Sarah chapter soon.  The problem then was, that I’d get so caught up in a chapter about Julia that I’d then want to read through Sarah’s next chapter to get to Julia.  A bit of a vicious cycle as I stayed up much later than intended for a few nights in a row to keep reading the novel.

I’m a bit embarrassed to admit this, but I knew little to nothing about the Vel d’Hiv roundup in Paris.  While Sarah is a fictional character, the roundup was a very real occurrence in a very upsetting period of history.  While an upsetting topic, the book served as a way to teach me more about a time in history on which I have already read countless books.  In my previous post, I noted that I read three books quickly in a row and that each book caused me to feel very specific emotions.  You can probably guess that by the topic of Sarah’s Key, most of my emotions while reading this book were upset and even heartbroken.  While this is the case, and yes it is a sad book, it is a touching remembrance on a difficult subject.  Powerful and even haunting, Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay is an exceptional novel.