Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
On Sunday, I drove the kids to Montauk for their respective activities. Made me think about what life would have been living in the suburbs. I remember as a kid driving my bike everywhere until I got a car. When did the world shift to parents becoming chauffeurs until their kids can drive? Maybe it was always like that but my parents didn't get with that program. Anyway, after dropping Josh off at Putt-Putt with his friend and taking Emily and her crew to Joni's for lunch, I went to the book store and searched for a cup of coffee.
The book store in Montauk is quite pathetic as I believe they are going out of business. But there was one long table with about 15/20 paperbacks on it. I had read most of them and I took that as a sign that the few that I had not read must be good as I basically enjoyed the rest of them. I picked up Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay.
I started the book in the car waiting for the kids and finished it today. The book is based on a piece of French history. In July 1942, the French police rounded up thousands of Jewish families. The French separated the men, shipped them off to the Auschwitz, then did the same with the women. The children were left for days before the word came down to ship them off to Auschwitz too. It is a nasty piece of history.
The book goes back and forth from present to past. A journalist, Julia, an American who has lived in Paris for 25 years with her French husband and young daughter, is researching a story about this time for a magazine. As Julia begins to learn about that part of history, the reader learns about a young girl Sarah, and what happened to her and her family in July 1942. That part of history is called Vel' dHiv' (Velodrome d'Hiver which is the location the Jews were housed before being shipped off to Auschwitz).
We also follow a young girl, Sarah, who is deported with her parents and leaves her brother behind locked in their secret hiding place assuming she will return the next day for him. As the story unfolds, the lives of Sarah and Julia's French family intertwines with a dark family secret. The moving from past to present really helps the reader understand people's thoughts on that part of history today.
Not only does the novel focus on a tragic story, it focuses on what happens when circumstances change. I honestly could not put the book down. I found myself weeping as the book came to some closure. I don't think I have wept reading a book since I read Jonathan Safran Foer's Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.
I am sure this book will stay with me for a very long time.