I’ve read a lot of non-fiction books about the Holocaust, but lately, I’ve been reading fiction books about the Holocaust, and they’re every bit as moving and heart clenching.
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One of my favorites, that still continues to haunt me, is Sarah’s Key by Tatiana De Rosnay. Sarah is a 10 year old Jewish girl living in Paris with her father, mother, and her younger brother. In July, 1942, the French police round up all the Jews for the Germans; Sarah and her family are among those rounded up. Sarah’s brother is afraid and doesn’t want to go to the police station, so Sarah locks him in a secret cupboard in her house, per his request. Sarah thinks the family will be back the next day, so she leaves her brother with a flashlight, some water, and his favorite stuffed teddy bear.
In addition to telling Sarah’s story, the book also tells the modern day story of Julia Jarmond, an American living in France, who works as a reporter and is married to a French man. Together they have an 11 year old daughter. Julia’s life is changed forever when she’s assigned the story of the 60 year anniversary of Vel’ d’Hiv’, when all of the Jewish people in Paris were rounded up. When her husband asks her to stop pursuing Sarah’s story, their marital tensions come to the forefront.
Despite her husband’s objections, Julia slowly uncovers Sarah’s story and then goes on a search to find Sarah, 60 years later. What she finds is a tragic story that haunts two families and has repercussions through the generations.
This story unwinds slowly, and at each level, there are more instances of loss and devastation.
While I found some of the parts of this story too coincidental, I did enjoy the story, and as I said, it haunts me. I had never heard of the Vel’ d’Hiv’ round up, so I learned another dark part of history, too.
I give this book 4.5 out of 5 stars on the Mom’s Plans’ scale.