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66 of 69 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Absolutely Compelling Read
Five stars are not nearly sufficient to describe this most compelling read. By times, the story is so heart-rendering that one simply must put the book down and take a break. It is the story of a young girl, Sarah, and her family during the "French Roundup" of the Jewish people living in France during World War II. As the chapters unfold, a modern-day couple enter the...
Published on Sept. 2 2009 by The Mad Hatter

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37 of 41 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Sarah's Key
The book's historical story line was very interesting of the treatment of French Jews during the Holocaust. I enjoyed this part very much and often had a hard time reading how horrible the French police were at rounding up victims. As someone who has studied the Holocaust extensively I was shocked to discover that I knew nothing of Veladrome in France and what happened...
Published on Feb. 21 2010 by Joleen Rita Bell


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66 of 69 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Absolutely Compelling Read, Sept. 2 2009
By 
The Mad Hatter "Seagull Books" (Prince Edward Island, Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Sarah's Key (Paperback)
Five stars are not nearly sufficient to describe this most compelling read. By times, the story is so heart-rendering that one simply must put the book down and take a break. It is the story of a young girl, Sarah, and her family during the "French Roundup" of the Jewish people living in France during World War II. As the chapters unfold, a modern-day couple enter the scene and there is a second story to be told.

Apart from the plot and well-developed characters, an additional plus to the book is the short chapters. Written as a reflection on Sarah's childhood trials and tribulations, the chapters alternate from war time years of the early 40's to modern day. The alternate modern day chapters give a pleasant break to the attrocities committed during war time. Sarah's childhood and imprisonment in a concentration camp, the brother she left behind, and the loss of her parents are very painful parts of the book to read. The author has a unique writing style; the reader cannot help but feel all the emotion and chaos as if one was "living the reality" of this horrendous period in time.

The knowledge gained from "Sarah's Key" is that no matter how challenging our world is today, (yes, war still goes on and it is not a perfect world,) we should appreciate the freedom we do have and cherish each day. May there never be another holocaust, and may we learn to respect each other's values, religions, cultures and lifestyles so the world may live in peace and harmony. This book is most highly recommended. Also recommended is "Those Who Save Us" by Jenna Blum.
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37 of 41 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Sarah's Key, Feb. 21 2010
By 
Joleen Rita Bell (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Sarah's Key (Paperback)
The book's historical story line was very interesting of the treatment of French Jews during the Holocaust. I enjoyed this part very much and often had a hard time reading how horrible the French police were at rounding up victims. As someone who has studied the Holocaust extensively I was shocked to discover that I knew nothing of Veladrome in France and what happened during the Holocaust. This part of the novel was well researched and constructed and it was interesting to see it through the eyes of a child. However, the "modern" story line of the main character was rather dull, predicable and cliche. It was step above a Danielle Steel novel. This part was rather disappointing and held little interest to me.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Unforgettable history in an otherwise forgettable book, Feb. 13 2011
This review is from: Sarah's Key (Paperback)
"Sarah's Key" centers on the shameful Vel' d'Hiv roundup of Jewish families in Paris by their compatriots, the memory of which has been collectively suppressed by the French people. Unfortunately the fictional part of this story fails to live up to the strength of the historical elements and is instead filled uninteresting, unbelievable, or unlikeable characters in contrived situations.

The historical facts in this story deserve telling, and I would suggest that you take a pass on this book and find a work of non-fiction on this topic instead except there don't seem to be any. For that reason alone this book may be worth your time.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved it!, April 24 2009
By 
Jaime Stephens (Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Sarah's Key (Paperback)
I absolutely adored reading this book. The book delves into a black time in Parisian history that while I am well versed in history I had no idea happened. I was actually left questioning why this topic isn't covered in school. I had an absolutely amazing Comp Civ teacher in school who pushed the boundaries on what he taught his students, but yet this was not included in our learning. His theory was that it was his responsibility to teach us as much about the past injustices inflicted on innocent people that history wouldn't repeat itself.

Not only does this book tell a dark story, it also tells a story of hope. Those who risked their lives to do everything they could to make the lives of these Jewish children should be an inspiration to us all.

One piece of advise, make sure that you have an extended block of time available to sit down at read Sarah's key, because if you're like me you'll read the entire novel in one sitting, and then head to the computer to read more.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It was just okay, July 22 2010
This review is from: Sarah's Key (Paperback)
I found Sara's side of the story to be very much a page-turner, gripping, sad, and I enjoyed reading this part of the book for the most part. I didn't know much about what had happened in Paris so some of it was very new for me which I appreciated. I was not at all interested in Julia as a character, honestly found her to be quite pathetic, did not sympathize with her. I thought it was very weak character development, if that's what you call it, kind of predictable and seemed almost phony. I agree with a previous review that it was something like Danielle Steel. Didn't love the writing style. I would give it three stars because it wasn't terrible, but I certainly wouldn't go rushing out to recommend it to friends...and I know there are better books out there on this topic area...
Overall an easy read though and some women in my book club really enjoyed it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed too, Nov. 29 2013
This review is from: Sarah's Key (Paperback)
I couldn't wait to start reading this book as I had heard so many great reviews from friends and colleagues. It was such a disappointment. The historical story of Sarah is interesting. Learning about the devastating conditions and extreme cruelty that occurred during the Vel d'Hiv round up was an education and eye-opener. However, the modern day tale of the journalist researching the events in July, 1942, was a complete waste of pages. As someone else mentioned, it's written like a bad romance novel. This book would be so much better if the author had stuck to telling Sarah's story and left out the rest. I struggled to finish the book once Sarah's story was told.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A disappointment, Aug. 22 2011
This review is from: Sarah's Key (Paperback)
I was so disappointed in this book, I saw an advertisment for the movie coming out and since I prefer books to film I purchased it for my Kindle, I did not read the more negative reviews,I won't make that mistake again. I felt this was just too simplified reading. It only kept me reading as I wanted to find out what happened to Sarah, the idea was a good one. I felt I was dragging myself through the book a paragraph at a time. Very repetitive and writing over and over again the facts which had already been covered. It reminded me of several books I have read over the years. If I know I'm reading page by page the writing is very poor. I just kept hoping it would ge better it didn't. It seems like a writer once they become known need to turn out a book every year rather than one good book every few years or they are a poor writer and just fill pages. Another reviewer said it reminded her of Danielle Steele, I haven't read her books in years for the very same reason. I found The Kite Runner to be the same. Great reviews but a poor read. I keep hearing 'what a great book' and I'm thinking am I the only one who doesn't feel that way.
I can't say much more without being repetitive myself.
Annette Code
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read- Especially for Girls, Aug. 22 2014
This review is from: Sarah's Key (Paperback)
I read this entire book in one day because after the first sentence I was hooked and could not put it down. It's about relationships but, theres so much more than that. It's about the unspoken bonds and feelings that draw us to people. And it's about family, courage, fear, self-discovery (which everyone can relate to), and the history in it is as rich as the symbology in a Dan Brown novel, but only way more relevant.
The book takes us back to 1942 and manages to perfectly intertwine the past with the present, 60 years later. In doing so, secrets are exposed that were supposed to have been hidden for generations. Beginning on an awful night in France in 1942 a ten year old girl faced with a desperate situation makes a split-second decision. When the French police arrive at the families home and round up the young girl and her mother; her father hidden in the basement, the little girl locks her four year old brother in their secret hiding place, thinking she will be able to return for him later.
The family was Jewish, during the war. Forced into unsanitary conditions before their shipment to intern camps, children ripped from their parents; Sarah never forgot about her four year old brother she locked in the closet.
France is reluctant to speak about its involvement in the Velodrome d'Hiver roundup, where 4,000 Jewish kids were sent to Aushwitcz, most never returned, yet Sarah managed to escape. When she returns to her brother in the apartment weeks later, a family is living there. What they find will change their lives forever, and silence Sarah for the rest of hers.
60 years later a reporter is assigned to a story and finds a personal connection between her French in-laws, and a Jewish family that had been rounded up by the French police. After generations of secrets and hatred, this story is about the search for peace and forgiveness. It pulls at your heart strings.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Never Forget, Nov. 6 2012
This review is from: Sarah's Key (Paperback)
Ten year old Sirka's world is a happy one. She has loving parents and a fun-loving four year old brother whom she adores. But all that changes on the night of July 16, 1942 when German-occupied Paris is forced to give up it's Jewish families. Up to this point the Germans have only taken away the men of the family. However on this particular night they grab entire families. Sirka, not knowing what all of this means, thinks to save her little brother Michel by locking him into a secret cupboard with his favorite toy and a flashlight. It is her intention to come back for him after she and her family are released. She drops the key to the cupboard into her skirt pocket.

The next few weeks are a blur of confusion as Sirka and her family are taken to the Velodrome d'Hiver, a large sort of coliseum, where everyone is packed in without food, water, or any of life's basic needs. Within days many die and others become sick. At last the women and men are separated. The men are bussed to a camp from which they are taken by cattle car to Auschwitz where they are ultimately put to death. Sirka and her mother (who by now has retreated into her mind) are taken to a different camp where the children are separated from their mothers. The mothers, like the men before them, are soon herded into cattle cars and shipped to Auschwitz as well. The children will soon follow. But Sirka and another girl manage to escape the camp with the help of a French guard. Throughout this time Sirka has only one driving thought, to return to the family's home in Paris and release her brother who, she fears, has learned to hate her for not coming back sooner.

Fast forward sixty years to the anniversary of this awful event and meet Julia Jarmond, an American married to a Frenchman. She is a journalist who knew little to nothing about the Children of the Vel d'Hiv. Through her research she learns the story of Sirka (Susan). The story of this child soon consumes her and she is driven to learn all that she can. The facts, well-hidden from the world, lead her on a quest from France, to the United States, to Italy, and finally back to France. Julia learns that there are secrets her husband's family know but refuse to reveal; secrets that entwine their lives, and ultimately Julia's, with the life of Sirka (Susan).

This is a powerful story, one that taught me more than I've ever known about the cruelties of World War II. The young girl Sirka, whose story we follow, proves to be one of the strongest characters I have encountered in fiction. Although Julia, the American journalist, proves to be the catalyst for the story, I would have preferred to hear the story through Sirka's own voice (as in early chapters of the book). The personal mid-life crisis that Julia goes through adds little to the story. To be fair, though, Julia is a strong character in her own right.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I learned quite a bit more about a chapter in history that I had heretofore only heard bits and pieces about. Well researched; well written.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The definition of a page-turner, July 18 2012
This review is from: Sarah's Key (Paperback)
A wonderfully written, captivating work of fiction. I am not one to re-read books but have just ordered the gift edition of this book so that I could at least have one copy in pristine condition. I recommend this book every time the talk of books arises.

It will tug at your heart strings, make you wonder, make you want to read faster...but then slower since you never want it to end. Such an amazing book it is hard to find words. If you're thinking of picking it up, just do. Truly amazing!
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