65 of 68 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 Sep 2 2009 by The Mad Hatter
36 of 40 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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5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing,
This review is from: Sarah's Key (Paperback)Such a great book. It throws you into every emotion.
Suggested for everyone!!
I havent read her other works but I have been told this is the better book.
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it!,
This review is from: Sarah's Key (Paperback)Highly recommend this gem. Ordering from amazon, it came much faster than I had expected too. Great read for an older crowd, highlighting an issue that has been swept under the rug but is so important to remember.
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read!,
This review is from: Sarah's Key (Paperback)Sarah's Key is a page turner. It's an intriguing, yet heartbreaking story of a young girl and her family during the Nazi regime and goes back and forth into present time to a journalist trying to find out what happened to Sarah. I had never read a book written this way but I enjoyed it very much and I had a hard time putting it down. It's an excellent book and I highly recommend it!
3.0 out of 5 stars An aspect of history I was unaware of,
This review is from: Sarah's Key (Paperback)I had high hopes for this book but unfortunately it did not live up to my expectation. It was not the greatest I have read, but it exposed me to a part of history I was not aware of or even heard of. What happened was so unfortunate and inhumane and that was clearly evident in the story, which I was glad to see that the horrific conditions were not sugar coated. Overall, it was an average read in terms of the fictional story, but better for the awareness it brought to me about an aspect of history that has not been readily discussed or drawn attention to.
4.0 out of 5 stars Never Forget,
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.
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant literary quest for a child's fate,
This review is from: Sarah's Key (Paperback)Sarah’s Key is a brilliant intertwining story of a young Polish-French Jewish girl, Sarah Starzynski, in 1942, with that of a transplanted American Journalist, married and working in Paris, Julia Jarmond, sixty years later. In short, fast paced chapters, the story of Sarah’s WWII experiences is alternated by chapters (in a different font) of Julia’s 21st century life, which is preoccupied by three scenarios: 1. Her lukewarm marriage to her distracted, snobbish French husband, Bertrand; 2. Her devotion to her lively ten year old daughter, Zoe; and 3. Her research for an article about the rounding up of thousands of Jews by the Parisian police—at the behest of the Gestapo—on July 16, 1942. That research culminates in an increasing obsession to discover the fate of the members of the Starzynski family who before their expulsion had occupied the same apartment which, soon after it becoming vacant, became occupied by the family of Julia’s in-laws, the Tezacs. At one point there seems to have been an interaction between Sarah Starzynski and Julia’s husband’s grandparents and father after they took occupancy of the apartment. What was the nature of that interaction and how did it have an impact on Sarah and on the Tezacs? A shroud of secrecy seems to have concealed the events.
The second half of the book only deals with Julia’s life, mainly her mental preoccupation with what happened to Sarah—especially whether she survived the Holocaust, and, if so, what became of her, and coincidentally, the emotional turmoil Julia experiences with an untimely pregnancy—whether to terminate it or not—because her husband doesn’t want another child so late in life. The writer has crafted a captivating story of human tragedy, the will to survive, the compassion of strangers, the persistence of curiosity and the rewards of being true to one’s own ideals. This is an emotionally rewarding read which arguably reaches an apex of sensitivity in the very last chapter.
5.0 out of 5 stars The definition of a page-turner,
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!
5.0 out of 5 stars A powerful novel,
This review is from: Sarah's Key (Paperback)Sarah's Key will stay with me forever. This book has haunted me and made me cry. I think about sarah often, although she is fictional, I still think about her and her brother. an absolutely great novel. I was sad to have finsihed it. another note, the movie was great.
17 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "These black hours will stain our history for ever...",
This review is from: Sarah's Key (Paperback)Sarah's Key is written with parallel chapters, one telling the story of the round up of Jews in July 1942 by the French Police. Ten year old Sarah thinks they are only being taken for a few hours and locks her terrified brother in a secret cabinet thinking he'll be safe and takes the key with her, as Sarah, her parents and many others are sent to the Vel' d'Hiv for processing to eastern "labor camps". Julia Jarmond is an American journalist assigned to write about the Vel' d'Hiv for the 60th anniversary of a dark moment in French history that many would prefer to forget. Julia finds out about Sarah and her brother in the secret cabinet and a connection to her husband's family and this information drives her to uncover the secrets to Sarah's past.
That said, I have mixed feelings about this book. The chapters telling Sarah's story of the round up, the conditions in the Vel' d'Hiv, the children being ripped from their parents by their own countrymen, Jews being packed into cattle cars for deportation to "labor camps", and most especially her terror at realizing that her brother is locked in a cabinet that only she has the key to release him were unputdownably gripping.
On the other side of the coin, Julia's story started off interestingly enough but once Sarah's voice left about halfway through the book, things quickly deteriorated into much too short two page chapters. Instead of seriously dealing with the mindset of the French and how they buried the round up into forgotten obscurity, the author takes Julia's story into a not terribly exciting tale of an unfaithful husband having a mid life crises, an unplanned pregnancy that finally culminates in a reasonably predictable and trite ending. The Vel' d'Hiv round up is a fascinating and little known bit of French history and I would have preferred to have a book devoted entirely to Sarah's story, and her experiences later in life and how she dealt with her grief over the fate of her brother and parents. 3/5 stars - this story just left me feeling half empty after a not too satisfying meal and hungry for something more.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved it!,
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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Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay (Paperback - Sep 30 2008)
CDN$ 15.50 CDN$ 11.19