Meghan's Reviews > Sarah's Key

Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
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Oct 28, 2009

liked it
bookshelves: babc, book-club, historical-fiction, holocaust, jewish, kindle, own, american, french, tnbbc
Recommended to Meghan by: Book Addicts Book Club
Recommended for: everyone
Read from February 10 to 14, 2010

I'd give this a 3.5 stars just because the subject matter is so important, but the writing is really too simplistic for it to be a full four stars. I thought this may be a YA story, but I'm not sure. That said, this is a book that everyone should read because to not know should be a crime.

It seems like I've been reading a lot of books set during WWII. From the Guernsey Literary Society to the Piano Teacher to the Rape of Nanking, I'm really getting an eyeful of what life was like around the world. And what strikes me most is the sheer and utter tragedy that occurred--not just in Germany, but around the world. The horror that was inflicted and the silence that has endured generation after generation. The silence is what makes this tragedy seem to repeat itself over and over for each generation.

This story tells the story of France's participation. I was aware of France being occupied by Germany from school as well as books like Atonement. However, I knew nothing about France's participation in the round up of Jews. The disregard of humanity for whatever reason--fear being most likely, but also an opportunity to wreak depravity--caused not just thousands of men and women to their certain doom, but THOUSANDS of children, separated from their parents, to live out their last few, remaining days in France in squalor, pain, and fear. Children as young as 2, ripped from their mothers, beaten, hosed down with water, and then stored in a suburb outside of Paris. All done, not by Nazi Germans, but the French police.

It would be easy to call these people monsters and shake my head in disgust and distain. What do you expect from the "frogs"? But as Sarah herself said, maybe that's how easy it starts--from that vague hate for someone (or a group of strangers) because you can.

I've read a lot how many people wondered why God abandoned them--or still yet, is this proof that God never existed because if there was a higher being, how could that being allow such absolute hatred and depravity and horror exist and then exist as long as it did.

But my feeling is that God does exist. One might argue the devil almost won during this war. Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, the Japanese army. These people almost destroyed the world as we knew it. And yet, everywhere, you read about the pockets of resistence. About individuals who had nothing to gain and everything to lose, step forward and demonstrate acts of courage that no blockbuster action movie could ever dream up for its hero. And it is through these people that God showed His strength and His might and His love for humanity. We were given the gift of free will--that means no interference by God. We make our own choices and we must live with those consequences. But He is always trying to find ways to guide us, give us hope, speak through us.

The survivors who are willing to speak out remind us that these crimes must never repeat themselves. That our fears and our insecurities must never outweigh our humanity and our reason and our compassion. We are stronger than we think and we can make a difference. To the Oskar Shindlers of the world, those small gestures may make the difference for generations to come.

I hope you read this book. It's story may not touch you deeply, but you will not walk away uneffected. To remember is the greatest way we can honor those who suffered and died such needless, tragic deaths.
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Reading Progress

02/12/2010 page 10
3.4% "This reads like a YA novel-is it? But it's an interesting point of view. France's part in the Holocaust (which is not widely taught)."

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Cynthia Yes, I struggled with the 3/4 star rating as well. Yet, the overall historical merit pushed me to the four, but the writing doesn't compare to Gruen or Franzen, for example.


Meghan Cynthia wrote: "Yes, I struggled with the 3/4 star rating as well. Yet, the overall historical merit pushed me to the four, but the writing doesn't compare to Gruen or Franzen, for example."

I've read some pretty harsh reviews of the book and I have to say I don't necessarily disagree with them. But like you said, the historical merit (for me) makes up for what the story lacks. It would be great to see this story in the hands of more capable writer though.


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