**spoiler alert** 42 000 Jews were sent from France to Auschwitz. Only 811 returned after the war. One-quarter of those 42 000 were rounded up on July...more**spoiler alert** 42 000 Jews were sent from France to Auschwitz. Only 811 returned after the war. One-quarter of those 42 000 were rounded up on July 16, 1942 and held at the Velodrome d'Hiver before being shipped to various death camps. This book tells their tale. In particular the tale (albeit fiction) of one little girl, Sarah, and how her life intermingles with the life of Julia, a contemporary American ex-pat living in Paris.
This book is excellent and awful, all at the same time. I do not want to know about these things. Yet I must know about these things. As children, we learned about the Holocaust in school, but did we really understand? How can you comprehend that much death when you are not even sure of your own mortality?
Reading this book, it hits me. Oh, my God. This happened. This really happened. Mothers, like me, had their children wrenched from their arms. And not by the enemy, but by their own government! It's always been real, but it is not until now that I can relate. Once the realization hits you, all you do is ask yourself, "Why? Why? Why? How? How? How?" Why did it get this far? How did the free world let it get this bad? We cannot blame it all on Hitler. He lead the charge, but people were waiting for his call. People were so easily convinced. As the little man himself once said, "What luck for the rulers that men do not think."
I didn't care for the character of Sarah's mother. She seemed very weak and selfish. Sarah herself is bothered by this, how her mother seems to have all the fight sucked out of her. I'd like to think that I could be strong for my children. That I would never let them see me falter. That I would not force them to be the grown-up (as Sarah was forced.) But how do I know? How do I know what I would do if I were faced with unimaginable terror?
Yet the moment at which I lose all respect for Sarah's mother happens early on, when the police first arrest Sarah and her mother. It happens before the horrors of the days in the Velodrome, the trains, and the camps. As they are being led away from their building, the mother stops in the street and screams for her husband. Her husband, who was safely hidden away in the basement. Her husband, who would have come back up to the apartment in the morning and could have collected Michel from the cupboard. Michel. Michel, whom the mother knew was locked inside the apartment. The mother knew he was to be left alone. Knew of the terrible fate he could meet. Knew that her husband was the only other person privy to the children's hiding spot. Knew there was a possiblility that, even though it was too late for her and her daughter, perhaps her husband and son could escape.
Yet still she screams for her husband. For him to come to her. Because she needed him. Because she did not want to face her fate alone, even if that meant damning her child. I never forgave her mother for this action.
Late last night, with about 50 pages left to read, I put down the book, crawled into bed with my four-year-old son and pulled him close. In his half-awake, feverish stupor (we're all suffering from the flu), he mumbled something about his current favourite movie, Curious George. I smiled through tears and held him tighter. I thought about all the children ripped from their mothers arms that terrible summer in France. Children my son's age, children even younger, children who were too young to understand what was happening. I thought of the children Sarah's age. Children who, worse still, were old enough to know what was happening. Children who understood they would never see their mothers again.
I inhaled my son's hair and tried to imagine someone ripping him from my arms. To watch, powerless, as he is pulled to a terrible fate, one I could not protect him from. The images could not form. My brain cannot process such thoughts, such horrendous possibilities. No. It is not possible. This can never happen again.
42 000 Jews were sent from France to Auschwitz. Only 811 returned after the war. One-quarter of those 42 000 were rounded up on July 16, 1942 and held at the Velodrome d'Hiver. This book tells their tale.
There are many other tales to be told. Tales to be heard. Hilter's Germany murdered somewhere between 11 and 17 million people during World War II.
I enjoyed this book more that its predecessor, Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict. Technically, this book is not a sequel; It's a parallel tale. In C...moreI enjoyed this book more that its predecessor, Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict. Technically, this book is not a sequel; It's a parallel tale. In Confessions, Courtney Stone awakes to find herself in the body and life of Jane Mansfield, circa 1813. Meanwhile, Jane is living Courtney's 2010 life in Rude Awakenings.
Other than the slightly annoying and distracting overuse of the word "countenance" (was their really no other synonym for "facial expression" in 1813?), I enjoyed the (sometimes hilarious) escapades of Jane/Courtney as she learns to make it in this modern world. Some of her observations are keen: "...marriage for love is as important as it ever was. In fact, women of this century even feel they are entitled to love."
There are parts of this book that are quite interesting and the plot is a good one. But I could have done without the love-at-first-sight-can't-bear-t...moreThere are parts of this book that are quite interesting and the plot is a good one. But I could have done without the love-at-first-sight-can't-bear-to-be-apart romance bullshit.
This book is like Twilight except with grown-up characters. Diana is just like Bella - we're suppose to believe she is a strong, independent woman, yet she is constantly demurring to her overpossesive vampire boyfriend, Matthew. Who, by the way, has made it quite clear that he is one dangerous SOB and is capable of killing her on a whim. Which would of course be HER fault for trusting him and/or tempting him, and generally just being a female in his vicinity. Despite all this, of course she still loves him! "You'd never hurt me!" she continually insists. *eyeroll* Newsflash, lady - men hurt woman all the time. Even (sometimes especially) women they purport to love.
Occasionally it seems like the author remembers the character was first introduced as a highly intelligent, athletic, independent scholar, so sometimes Diana tries to defy Matthew. Of course she is immediately caught and harshly spoken to for her transgressions. A few more threats about what Matthew is capable of doing may be thrown in for good measure. Oh! At one point, she even makes tea before running out to the garden to kiss Matthew good morning. Get it?! "I love him - but not more than my morning tea! See how strong & independent I am? See? See?"
I've had enough of these weak females who lose themselves in a vampire boyfriend! Where are the Buffy's of the world?! Yeah, she had a vampire boyfriend - but when the time came, she killed him to save the world, no matter how much it hurt her. She had a job to do and she did it well. (less)
There's not much I can say without giving away the ending -- what's the point of a review with spoilers - most of us want to read the review before>...moreThere's not much I can say without giving away the ending -- what's the point of a review with spoilers - most of us want to read the review before> we read the book, not after. Isn't the whole point of a review to determine if the book is good enough for us to read? I digress...-- so all I will say is that this book is amazing and yes, you should read it.
Fair warning: If you are human, the book will make you cry. If you are a mother, a sister or a daughter, it will make you sob (so basically all women reading this book should be armed with a box of Kleenex). But don't avoid the book just because it's sad. Like Sarah's Key, Night Garden tells a story that must be told, a story that we must hear and never forget. And, like Sarah's Key, this book leaves me with this thought:
Boy, those Nazi's were f*ckers, weren't they?(less)
I loved this book, just as I love all of Sittenfeld's books. Her writing really speaks to me. I wish I had purchased a hard copy of this book (not the...moreI loved this book, just as I love all of Sittenfeld's books. Her writing really speaks to me. I wish I had purchased a hard copy of this book (not the e-book) because (like in Prep and Man of My Dreams) there were several lines of text that really stood out for me and I wanted to mark them. It's so much easier to flip back through a hard copy than an e-book.
Although I've never agreed with his policies, I do find George Bush to be a fascinating and entertaining man. American Wife was interesting enough that I now want to read both of the Bush's autobiographies, as well as find out more about the history of the White House. And I'm Canadian. (less)
What a great book! Such an interesting format as well - each chapter focuses on a different person involved with an English-language newspaper based i...moreWhat a great book! Such an interesting format as well - each chapter focuses on a different person involved with an English-language newspaper based in Rome. The author is adept at speaking in all the different tones of all the different characters. I may not have read this book on my own (it's our May book club pick), but I'm glad I did.(less)
This novel is a wonderful character study. Interestingly enough, I despise most of the characters, but I absolutely love the book. I'm a little shocke...moreThis novel is a wonderful character study. Interestingly enough, I despise most of the characters, but I absolutely love the book. I'm a little shocked that it was on the 'last chance' shelf at the bookstore - it only cost me $2!
I just love her stories! They are so magical and entertaining. I'm only sorry that this was the last book of hers that I had not yet read - so now I h...moreI just love her stories! They are so magical and entertaining. I'm only sorry that this was the last book of hers that I had not yet read - so now I have to wait until she release a new one next year.(less)