Saturday, August 7, 2010
Book Look Review "Sarah's Key"
Parlez -vous francais? I used to parlez a little since I grew up in the bilingual country of Canada. Although the French Canadians known as Quebecois do not actually speak the Parisian version I learned in school and off the back of the cereal box every morning. It’s a handy language to speak -especially living here in Utah. “Sarah’s Key” by Tatiana De Rosnay is a French novel translated for the rest of you who cannot read it in French. Actually I wouldn’t be able to read it either except for cereal box words like sucre Pop and cereals de mais.
It’s a bestseller here in America and an award winning choice for book clubs. The novel begins in Paris July 1942 with the tragic story of ten-year-old Sarah who is taken in the middle of the night by the French police. Her Jewish family is betrayed by their apartment concierge. Sarah quickly hides her little brother by locking him in a cupboard believing they will return for him in just a few hours.
That’s when I started to cry the first time. I didn’t know very much about this infamous round up of 10,000 French citizens by the French police labeled Vel’d’Hiv. Captive families were kept in a locked stadium for days without food or water and then children and parents were literally torn apart as the parents were sent to Auschwitz. Little Sarah’s story is similar to many holocaust survivors and unique to others. The author notes: “This is not a historical work and has no intention of being one. It is my tribute to the children of the Vel’d’Hiv’. The children who never came back. And the ones who survived to tell.”
After a few chapters we are introduced to the American journalist Julia married to a Parisian whose family secrets lead her to search for Sarah. De Rosnay is skillful in weaving the story between the two characters. I did wish for more of heartbreaking Sarah’s story and a little less of Julia with her modern day family problems which pale by comparison.
I read this very good book in two days while on vacation in Canada. I’m sure people wondered why I had red-rimmed eyes sitting on the shores of Lake Erie in my mom’s retro orange webbed lawn chair. Je n’aime pas. I don’t care. It was worth adding a little salt water to the sand at the lake.
And Alyssa will be soon adding her review here on the blog.