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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Haunting Sarah's Key A Powerful Read

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

On a summer night in July of 1942, 10-year-old Sarah Starzynski awakens to the sound of someone pounding on her front door.  A bolt of fear races through her.  She's heard her parents whispering about round-ups and camps and Jewish men being forced from their homes.  Have the police found her father, who spends every night hiding in the cellar?  Are they going to take him away?  Sarah's shocked when the policemen—French policeman, no less—demand that she and her mother come with them.  In the few minutes she's given to pack her things, Sarah locks her little brother in a secret cupboard, promising he'll be safe until she can come back for him.  

Sixty years later, Julia Jarmond—an American journalist living in Paris—is researching the Vélodrome d'Hiver roundup in order to write a story for the upcoming anniversary of its occurrence.  Although the Parisians she talks to are reluctant to speak of it—if, indeed, they've even heard of it—Julia is fascinated by this little known event in the city's history.  The more she discovers about the roundup, which involved the arrests of around 12,000 Jews, mostly women and children, the more horrified she becomes.  When she finds a personal link to one of the roundup's young victims, Julia vows to find out what happened to little Sarah Starzynski and her family.  

Urged by her family and friends in Paris to leave the matter alone, Julia becomes even more determined in her quest.  As her search for the truth becomes an obsession she can't let go of, she finds herself reevaluating her own life, from her marriage to her work to her own future.  

Since I'm probably the last blogger on Earth to read Sarah's Key, Tatiana de Rosnay's bestselling novel, I don't have to tell you what a powerful read it is.  The rave reviews the book's garnered speak for themselves.  Although the events related in the story are similar to those in other Holocaust novels, de Rosnay brings something new to the genre.  Her prose feels a little stiff, but other than that, she tells the kind of compelling, haunting tale that stays with you long after you close the book.  

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of other adult novels about the Holocaust, including Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for language (one F-bomb, plus milder invectives), violence, and mild sexual innuendo/content

To the FTC, with love:  I bought a copy of Sarah's Key with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha. 


  1. We did this book a couple years ago for our local book club and it was a haunting read. Very powerful. I'm seeing little-known WWII or Holocaust stories being published the last few years. Like Rita Sepetys BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY. Shocking stories we've never heard of before. It truly was a world war, touching every country and every citizen in some way.

  2. It's been FOREVER since I read this..but...when she finds her brother -- OH MY GOODNESS. A scene I will never forget.


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