Having long been interested in the Holocaust, I was eager to read this book after I read the synopsis. Sarah’s Key starts off with a ten year-old girl who hides her little brother in a hidden cupboard in her bedroom with the naive assumption that the French police were going to allow her and her family to come home. She and her parents are taken by bus to the Vel d’Hiv stadium where they endured tortuous conditions before they were shipped off to the Beaune-la-Rolande internment camp.
Tatiana deRosnay alternates her story between the past and the present. In the present, journalist Julia Jarmond discovers this story while researching for an article to cover the 60th anniversary of the roundup, only to discover that she is about to move into the very apartment that Sarah Starzynski and her parents were taken from. She becomes obsessed not only with Sarah’s story but why her in-laws don’t want to talk about it.
While Julia was an interesting and well-rounded character, I felt that the events in her life were trivial compared to what Sarah was going through and was somewhat irritated that I had to read Julia’s POV every other chapter. I found out what happened to Sarah through Julia, which softened the blow. But I felt that it took away from the emotional impact of Sarah’s fate.
Don’t get me wrong, this story is excellent and has now become one of my favorite books for 2010. I just feel that Sarah’s fate should have been told by Sarah herself. That said, I liked how the book ended . . . suitably unresolved, where Julia is concerned. I’m looking forward to more of deRosnay’s books. She is a fantastic writer!
Fact: Sarah’s Key was based on a true story of The Vélodrome d’hiver Round-up: July 16 and 17, 1942