October 17, 2010

Sarah's Key, By Tatiana De Rosnay

I hadn't heard of Sarah's Key until my book club picked it last month.

A Holocaust story, Sarah's Key is different in the fact that it marries the past and present as it weaves together two lives and two families.

Plot: Julia is a present-day journalist who is researching the Vel d' Hive, a deportation of Jews conducted by the French police in July 1942. Sarah is a young girl who's family was taken into custody and eventually sent to Auschwitz as part of the Vel' d' Hive'. The novel illustrates the interplay of the present and the past as Julia uncovers the events surrounding the Vel' d' Hive' and how they directly relate to the actions of her in-laws at the same time.

I'm trying not to give anything away, but I will say secrets were kept by Julia's in-laws in 1942 that leads to strife today. For me, it was hard to fully understand why the conflict had to be so deep, aside from the author needing some sort of conflict to make the story work. In reality, Julia's family didn't do anything horrible -- and in fact acted honorably. But, there's themes of guilt and pride at work that make the present day conflict work. Sort of. There are also ancillary events that occur in Julia's life that made things more interesting and provided an added depth.

Characters: I loved both female leads, and really dug into their unique story lines. Sarah was an innocent girl who had to grow up quickly; Julia was an independent woman who had to test her own strength. I also loved Julia's daughter, who plays a secondary, but important role.

Structure: I have to say, I loved the structure of this book. Each chapter was less than five pages, which is ideal for me. I abhor long chapters, and the short ones kept the story moving, kept me engaged, and gave me easy places to stop when I had to take a break. For the first half of the book, each chapter alternates between Sarah and Julia. I liked the back and forth because it made me want to keep reading. You'd get to a point in Sarah's story where you wanted to know more -- but the author makes you wait for it. Great way to create a page turner.

With the exception of my odd feelings about the plot that I mentioned above, it's a great book. 3.5 stars.


  1. This one is on my TBR list and I am am really looking forward to reading it. I love strong female characters.

  2. I really loved sarah's key! I recommended it to a lot of people. veronica

  3. I just finished this one and really enjoyed it. I thought it was captivating. Thanks for the recommendation!


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