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Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
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's review
Jun 03, 2009

really liked it
Read in June, 2009

The premise of this book is rather horrible. It takes place in France partially during WWII and partially during the early 2000's. On July 16, 1942 during an incident referred to as Vel d'Hiv the French police rounded up almost 13,000 Jews many of whom were women and children. Most were eventually sent on to extermination camps. The part that takes place during WWII involves a Jewish family who is taken away. Trying to keep her little brother safe and not realizing that they would not be able to return to their apartment, Sarah locks her brother in a hidden cabinet and takes the key with her when the police round up her family. The part that occurs during the more present times involves an American journalist (Julia) living in Paris with her French husband and daughter. She is reporting on the 60th anniversary of the Vel d'Hiv incident and during her research finds out that the apartment her husband is renovating that belonged to his grandmother was previously lived in by a Jewish family, who obviously turns out to be the family whose story is being told in the other half of the book. She is determined to find out what happened to that family and to unearth whatever secret she feels surrounds them and their relation to her husband's family. The first half to 2/3 of the book has the two stories being told in alternating chapters. After that Sarah's story at least from her perspective just ends, and the rest of the book is told purely from the perspective of Julia. I thought the story lost something at this point. I was expecting Sarah's story to continue following her life as she had to live with the knowledge that she effectively killed her brother. I also thought the ending of the book was rather cheesy and it was very obvious what was going to happen so I don't know why the author insisted on trying to make it suspenseful through the last 3 or 4 chapters with some big reveal at the end. It was a good book, and I would recommend it, but I think the last 1/3 of the book had greater potential than how it was ultimately written.

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