Sarah's Key

Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay tells the alternating story of modern day journalist Julia Jarmond and a young French girl Sarah Starzynski who lived in Paris in 1942.  Julia is researching the events surrounding the VĂ©lodrome d’Hiver, more commonly known as the Vel' d' Hiv, when Jewish citizens were rounded up by the French police to be sent to concentration camps.  Sarah belonged to one of the many families taken from their homes, but thinking she would only be gone a few hours, she secreted her younger brother in a hidden room before leaving her home. Clinging to the key with which she locked him in, Sarah's story unfolds between Julia's as the journalist finds a tie between her own family and the Jewish people that were pulled from their homes. 

I don't want to give away too much of this story so I will keep this review rather brief.  Though I liked it, I didn't love the book as much as I wanted to.  Perhaps I had some over hyped expectations from people that told me I would adore it, or perhaps I wasn't mentally prepared for a tear-jerker.  I found myself extremely ensconced in Sarah's story but less so in Julia's narrative.  Nevertheless, what I most appreciated in this book was the information about the Vel' d'Hiv and the atrocities committed by the French police.  Though I like to think I learned a lot in school about World War II, this was entirely new and shocking information for me to read.  For that reason alone, I do find myself recommending Sarah's Key to others. 

And it also leads me to ask, what fiction book(s) do you consider a must-read for educational content alone?  Even if you weren't thrilled with the story, is there a title that you consider important because of what you learned from it? 

7 Response to "Sarah's Key"

  1. Sam (Tiny Library) says:
    October 9, 2011 at 6:45 AM

    I've seen mixed reviews in a lot of places for this one, I think it's maybe a victim of it's own hype?

    For educational content and good writing, I think To Kill A Mockingbird, The Diary of Anne Frank and The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas are all important.

  2. Deborah says:
    October 9, 2011 at 11:39 AM

    Saw the film last week, with Kristin Scott Thomas as Julia, and thought it was excellent. Pretty harrowing in places, but beautifully done and very moving.

  3. Anonymous Says:
    October 9, 2011 at 8:12 PM

    I read the book (didn't see the film). I thought it was a fine book, really sad in some parts.

  4. Elizabeth says:
    October 9, 2011 at 9:36 PM

    What a beautiful header and entire blog.


    Stop by my blog if you like...lots of book reviews and photos of Scotland.


  5. Anonymous Says:
    October 10, 2011 at 10:09 PM

    This has come highly recommended to me as well but I thinkg I need to be in a certain mood to read it. Every time I read the synopsis, my heart starts aching for that little boy.

  6. Anonymous Says:
    October 11, 2011 at 9:37 PM

    I didn't care for this book, because I thought the modern storyline was badly written (and not necessary). The historical part of the story felt like it was written by a different author. Like you, I very much appreciated the description of Paris during the Holocaust and the Vel D'Hiv. The story of Sarah and her brother was so horrifying it kept me up nights. But overall the book disappointed.

  7. Eesti says:
    January 11, 2012 at 2:36 AM

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading the historical fiction - the WW2 plot-line is compelling and offers the interesting point-of-view of a child with palpable detail.very moving and emotional book. i have passed this book on to several in my little reading circle.

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