Tuesday, March 6, 2012

2012 BOTY: Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

In July of 1942, the French police rounded up the Jewish families of Paris, many of them French citizens, for deportation to concentration camps. In what came to be called the Vel' d'Viv roundup, the operation code named "Operation Summer Breeze" was ordered by the Nazis and resulted in the arrest of over 13,000 individuals, most of whom would not survive the war.

Sarah's family lives in Paris. She is ten and does not understand why she must wear the yellow star on her shirt or why the police come pounding at her family's door early in the morning. She is ordered outside with her mother, but locks her younger brother in a hidden cupboard to try and keep him safe. It is not until later that she realizes that she will not be able to return home to let him out.

On the 60th anniversary of the Vel' d'Viv, Julia Jarmond is a journalist in France assigned to do a piece on the event. She knows nothing of it's history, but quickly becomes consumed by the horrible incident that destroyed the lives of so many and yet is known by so few.

Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay was recommended to me by Erin quite a while ago. I kept putting it off. I now wish I had read it sooner. It is such a powerful and well written novel. It is appalling to realize that in all of my years of education I had never heard of this tragedy. What became even more unbelievable was discovering that many French citizens (including a large number of Parisians) have no idea that such an unspeakable crime was carried out in their own city by their own police.

This book is beautiful. Yes, the tale is sad and heart wrenching. It is uncomfortable in some pieces. But that is what makes it so wonderful, it is real and brutally honest. It does not skate over the unpleasantries, but instead faces them head on.

I was swallowed up by this book. It tore me up inside and made my heart ache. I couldn't put it down once I started it and stayed up much later than I should have on a week night so that I could finish it. This is absolutely a book that I would put in my own personal library and that I would recommend to others. Sarah's Key receives 5 out of 5 stars.


  1. Ah... So I've redeemed myself after the whole 'One Day' debacle? Whew...

    1. I suppose I'll let you off the hook. Then again...maybe I'll just hang on to a never-ending grudge.

  2. This book was one of the best and different I have read regarding the Holocaust and the French involvement. I loved the entire book; however, the ending seemed a tad predictable to this reader. That being said, this book is a solid high five rating and is one I will never forget. The sections of the book set during the Holocaust were wonderfully written and the entire book was woven into a beautiful tapestry. I feel it was also a tribute to the millions who were so brutally lost during this period.

  3. I agree. I think it was very well written and gives a different standpoint than is usually present in books about the holocaust.


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