by Tatiana de Rosnay
WWII. So many stories, so little time. But while most of them focus on the Nazis and their treatment of the Jewish people, "Sarah's Key" is about the Velodrome d'Hiver, the round-up of the Jews not by the Nazis, but by the French police. Actual French gendarmes rounding up their own countrymen to send them to Auschwitz. It's horrifying, heart-wrenching, terrible.
This novel is split at first between Sarah's point of view in 1942 and Julia Jarmond's point of view in 2002, a journalist writing about the round-up in Paris sixty years later. Reading Sarah's story, I was biting my nails, nervous and horrified at her experience when the police came, and in the camps. She was 10 years old. 10. When it was Julia's time to speak, I practically skimmed her story to get back to Sarah's. They eventually merge in the middle and it becomes Julia's voice for the rest of the book, and I have to admit, I was a tad disappointed to no longer hear from Sarah.
The way the two characters are connected is surprising and terrible. Everything that happened to the Jews in WWII was surprising and terrible, but this twist in the story, what Sarah found when she returned to Paris and the connection to Julia and her family is emotionally disturbing. The author holds back the secret for as long as possible before it's necessary for her to reveal it. She definitely knows how to keep the reader reading!
I had goosebumps when I finished reading the book. It's a good ending. I must say I wasn't a huge fan of Julia because she could get a bit over-emotional at times, but the ending wraps it all up nicely and makes up for that. The chapters are short and quick and help with the pace of the book. I do wish that we could have heard from Sarah a bit longer...
It's hard reading a book about so many people suffering. But it's a way of letting them know that you remember and will never forget. WWII was a devastating time for the entire world, and it's hard to believe that people could do such awful things to fellow humans. Even though it was before my time, I read those stories so that I will remember.