*Note, while I will try to avoid major spoilers, I sometimes won't be able to help it.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

"Sarah's Key" by Tatiana de Rosnay

My first encounter with this novel wasn't with the novel at all.  I saw the image of the DVD cover at the Redbox kiosk and was immediately drawn to it.  A few weeks later I sat down to watch it on Netflix.  Going into it I knew it took place during the holocaust.  There is just something about stories from this era of history that draw me in and refuse to let go.  This story was one like no other I had experienced, but it captured me just the same.

I didn't realized that the film was based on a book by the same name until after viewing it.  Tatiana de Rosnay's Sarah's Key is a story you will not soon forget.  It's July, 1942.  Paris, France.  Sarah's life is about to change forever.  When the French police arrive to arrest her family, Sarah hides her young brother Michel in a secret closet.  Not understanding the situation, she tells him to stay there until she returns and locks the door behind him.  Unfortunately she doesn't realize that she and her family are being taken to the  Vel d'Hiv and from there will be deported to the concentration camps.  Alternating with this story, set in present day, is the story of Julia Jarmond a journalist assigned to write about the upcoming Vel d'Hiv anniversary.  As  her life becomes consumed with her research, she realizes that the apartment she and her family are about to move into was once inhabited by a family arrested in the roundup- Sarah's family.

This novel covers a lot of topics.  It is not solely a holocaust novel.  Sarah and Julia's lives intertwine in unexpected ways as Julia digs deeper and deeper in the the history of her husband's family and tries to discover what happened to Sarah.  Much of the novel focuses on Julia's life and the struggles she faces when she finds out she's expecting her second child and realizes her husband doesn't wish to be a father again.  Though 60 years separate the two, it is interesting to see how Sarah influences Julia.

This a captivating book.  There are moments that are absolutely horrific.  In a way it's a story that's been told hundreds, thousands of times over, but it doesn't read like that.  It's a heart-breaking novel.  Though from the very beginning you know where the story is leading, you can't help but have hope that the expected will not take place and that the novel will have a truly happy ending.  I cannot recommend this book enough (the film too).  

Happy Reading!

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