This book review of Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay gives you the details of this harrowing and unforgettable World War II story. And because this is a book pairings blog “where books meet lifestyle,” I have also provided some recommended book pairings for further learning.
Book Review of Sarah’s Key (with Quotes)
On July 16 and 17, 1942, 13,152 Jews were arrested in Paris and the suburbs, deported and assassinated at Auschwitz. In the Vélodrome d’Hiver that once stood on this spot, 1,129 men, 2,916 women, and 4,115 children were packed here in inhuman conditions by the government of the Vichy police, by order of the Nazi occupant. May those who tried to save them be thanked. Passerby, never forget!
There will always be a story about World War II that has never been told before. Sarah’s Key is one of them, and this is why we should continue to learn about World War II through literature. Every story matters and every story honors those who suffered the atrocities of this War.
Sarah’s Key is told by two female narrators: Sarah and Julia. Sarah’s story centers on the lesser-known Vel’ d’Hiv’ roundup, by French police, of French Jews in Paris in July 1942. Upon the French police entering her family’s apartment and arresting her family, ten-year-old Sarah locks her younger brother in a hidden cupboard in the family’s apartment with a key, thinking that she will be back within a few hours to get him.
She closed the door on the little white face, turned the key in the lock. Then she slipped the key into her pocket. The lock was hidden by a pivoting device shaped like a light switch. It was impossible to see the outline of the cupboard in the paneling of the wall. Yes, he’d be safe there. She was sure of it.
Then, in May 2002 in Paris, the 60th anniversary of Vel’ d’Hiv’, journalist Julia Jarmond, a former American married to a French man, investigates the event for an article about the roundup. It was a dark day for France, and the French are reluctant to revisit it.
It’s not easy to bring back the past. There are unpleasant surprises. The truth is harder than ignorance.
As she researches, Julia stumbles upon hidden secrets of her husband that connect her to Sarah. She becomes indignant about retracing Sarah’s history and, in doing so, she reevaluates her own life.
Sarah’s Key brings the Vel’ d’Hiv roundup to light with subtlety yet truth about its horrors and lasting effects on generations thereafter. Author Tatiana de Rosnay reminds us that it is important to talk about a painful past.
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For more like Sarah’s Key:
- Read more about the Vel’ d’Hiv’ Roundup.
- Read more of the best World War II-themed historical fiction.
- Watch a World War II-themed movie, such as the movie version of Sarah’s Key.
- Explore your own Ancestry, particularly during that time period.
- Add some World War II-themed travel to your bucket list. Pearl Harbor and Normandy are on my literary bucket list for personal reasons, but the Anne Frank house is my #1 bucket list item. I simply can’t imagine what it feels like to be in that very spot.
I sincerely hope this book review of Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay inspires you to pick up this important book and/or continue to learn more about these important events of World War II.
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