Be omnivorous, don't just read one kind of book, read everything. - Richard Wagamese

Friday, July 15, 2011

Review: Sarah's Key by Tatiana De Rosnay

Publisher: St Martin's Griffin
Pages: 320
Personal Copy

In July of 1942 thousands of Jewish families living in Paris were removed from their homes and arrested , the French police carried out the orders of the Nazi invaders. Women, men and children were gathered together and placed into the Velodrome D’Hiver under despicable conditions for several days. Sarah’s Key is a remarkable story told from two perspectives, Sarah Starzynski, a ten-year old Parisian girl born to Jewish parents, and Julia Jarmond, an American journalist researching Paris’ shameful secrets.

Sarah Starzynski is woken in the middle of the night by men knocking on her door. Her father has been in hiding for a few days, and her mother is reluctant to open the door. Confused, and afraid Sarah tries to comprehend what is going on. When Sarah understands that they are being asked to leave the home, she tries to protect her little brother by locking him in a secret closet- believing her father will come out of hiding and rescue him. When Sarah’s father gives in to the pressure and joins his family, Sarah soon realizes that she has made a big mistake. Initially having the French police arrest them, gives Sarah the impression that they will be unharmed. Her own people have gathered them giving her a false sense of security, the German soldiers are not to be trusted. When it becomes clear that the French police have no compassion toward them, Sarah is hardened. Women, men and children were separated and placed into French camps, and eventually sent to their final destination –Auschwitz.

Julie Jarmon, is an American journalist married to a Parisian architect. She works for an American newspaper and upon the sixtieth anniversary of the Vel D’Hiv Julie is offered an opportunity to write a story covering those events. She dives in, never realizing how much this story would affect her and ultimately change her. Julie has always remained “the American” to her in-laws, and when she begins researching the story, she is stunned by their indifference, frustrated by their lack of knowledge. It seems like many Parisians are reluctant to acknowledge the history and Julie is furious, she becomes nearly obsessed, uncovering a deep, dark family secret that was never meant to be uncovered. Key relationships are tested, and life as she knows it, is no more.

Tatiana De Rosnay had me ensnared from the first page. Each paragraph had me more and more captivated. The alternate perspectives were both fascinating. Often when I read alternate perspectives, I tend to enjoy one more than the other but I equally enjoyed reading about both Sarah and Julie. Holocaust fiction tends to always capture me, but Sarah’s Key will remain one of the more memorable stories. I couldn’t attempt to write my review until I gave myself sometime to distance myself from the book. I kept thinking about this story for days, I didn’t want to start a new book right away, I just wanted to think about this one for awhile longer. Tatiana De Rosnay is a very talent story-teller. I will be recommending this one to everyone interested. A remarkable, memorable, emotional, page-turner.


  1. I think I would love this book since I lived in France and remember seeing all the plaques commemorating the Resistance. Have you heard they're making a movie of the book?

  2. I remember seeing this around and I wanted to read it but never did. I think I need to change that soon! Thanks for the review :)

  3. Wow this one sounds amazing. Going to go back to see if I can get my own copy. Great another book to add to my stack sitting on the floor. I BLAME YOU ;)

  4. I have been wanting to read this one but I wondered if it would be too hard to read. Your review has spurned a new interest in it. Thanks!

  5. This one has been on my to-buy list for a long time. I actually want to get A Secret Kept by her as well; everyone seems to love her writing and the stories she tells.

  6. I found Sarah's story heartbreaking and so difficult to read, but it's an important book about a little known aspect of the Holocaust. Do you plan on seeing the movie? I can't wait! I've linked to your review on War Through the Generations.