Sarah's Key

Sarah's Key

Book - 2007
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Paris, July 1942: Sarah, a ten year-old girl, is brutally arrested with her family by the French police in the Vel d'Hiv' roundup, but not before she locks her younger brother in a cupboard in the family's apartment, thinking that she will be back within a few hours. Paris, May 2002: On Vel d'Hiv's 60th anniversary, journalist Julia Jarmond is asked to write an article about this black day in France's past. Through her contemporary investigation, she stumbles onto a trail of long-hidden family secrets that connect her to Sarah. Julia finds herself compelled to retrace the girl's ordeal, from that terrible term in the Vel d'Hiv', to the camps, and beyond. As she probes into Sarah's past, she begins to question her own place in France, and to reevaluate her marriage and her life.
Publisher: New York : St. Martin's Press, 2007
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780312370831
0312370830
Branch Call Number: FICTION ROSNAY
Characteristics: 294 p. ; 25 cm

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Paris, July 1942: Sarah, a ten year-old girl, is brutally arrested with her family by the French police in the Vel' d'Hiv roundup, but not before she locks her younger brother in a cupboard in the family's apartment, thinking that she will be back within a few hours. Paris, May 2002: On Vel' d'Hi... Read More »


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1
1smallbook
Jul 16, 2017

I checked out the large print edition and was confused by so many characters and the fact the author wrote about the present then went to the past and back and forth. so many characters to keep straight. I checked out the video and it was very good and helped me with the book. I realize it is fiction and I prefer non-fiction but this story reflects what the Jews went through in Europe at the hands of the Nazis. I did enjoy the book afterall and am glad that a friend recommended it.

s
sgcf
Mar 26, 2017

I wanted to love this book. Maybe it was spoiled by seeing the movie almost a year prior to reading. The story of France’s complicity with the Nazis in sending thousands of French citizens to their death was a facet of history I was unfamiliar with, and it’s a story that needs to be honoured by retelling.
However, the story came across somewhat flat to me. The historical Sarah’s story was gripping and I wish we had more of this point of view. But the modern section about Julia of this dual track plot left me skimming lines and rolling my eyes at the melodrama. I really question why Julia hangs on to Sarah’s suffering for years the way Sarah hung on to the closet key. She remains a rather static, weak character and doesn’t grow beyond the issue. Ultimately the problem is in the writing – the author repeatedly tells us how to feel, slathering us in Julia’s tears and angst. Go see the movie – it has tightened up on the book’s wanderings and the riveting acting breathes truth into the characters.

MirandaJo Feb 24, 2017

This book tells the story of a little girl during the Holocaust and a young woman in the present who learns what that little girl went through. I love the emotional investment the reader has with the characters of the novel coupled with the historical accuracy of the events. This is one of my favorite historical novels.

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dlh1
Jan 30, 2017

I enjoyed this book, because it gave me a history lesson in addition to an intriguing story. Written in the style of Dan Brown, where two unrelated story lines are started and then converge into one (about halfway through the novel). I had read another book by the same author (A Secret Kept) and also enjoyed the writing, but not the way she left the story line(s) unfinished at the end. In Sarah's Key, she was able to tie up more of the major plot lines, so left me feeling more fulfilled as a reader. I had a hard time putting this book down at night, as the chapters were short and made me want to continue on (long past my bed time).

r
r0cdjmg
Dec 04, 2016

Heartbreaking.

AL_ALICIA Aug 25, 2016

I am usually a historical fiction fiend, but I really disliked this book. I read the entire thing as I was on a flight without a back up book and it was a quick read, but the story did not deliver. I found the protagonist annoying and the plot predictable and boring without much relation to the actual historical events. Still confused by all the hype it got....

blessedchica Apr 18, 2016

Our library loves this book!

c
ChaseJayWilliams
Mar 21, 2016

The Vel'd'Hiv is a serious and tragic event brought to light by this historical novel--and the knowledge that this event occured makes me feel more educated and less oblivious. However--the writing was insufferable. I hated reading the book, every page. Had to do it for a book group. Under the pen of a better writer, the events of Vel-d-Hiv might have seemed less bogged down by whiny child-like lead female character and the over simplistic, lead the reader by the hand dialogue and detail. Uggh.

Chapel_Hill_MarthaW Nov 26, 2015

This was a tricky book for me to rate. It's compulsively readable -- I read it in two sittings -- and it's based on a bit of French WWII history that I personally knew nothing about. So, it should be a great read, right? Yes, it SHOULD...but I can't give it more than 3 stars because of how emotionally manipulative it was. It's told in alternating chapters linking past and present storylines, and the Holocaust storyline is, of course, horrifying and deeply sad. But certain revelations made about Sarah (the girl at the heart of the 1942 storyline) felt like they were calculated for maximum emotional impact, and the problems with Julia (the contemporary heroine) and her troubled marriage felt superficial compared to the problems faced by Sarah in the Holocaust. (And, there's a source of conflict between Julia and her husband that infuriated me, as it felt lazy and heavy-handed on the part of the author.) Also, the overall tone surrounding Julia's search for the truth about Sarah felt very self-centered, almost as if she cared more about how learning about the Holocaust made HER feel than about the people involved in it. I don't know what to say; it's an interesting book, and it's well-written in the sense that it's extremely hard to put down, AND I don't doubt that there are a lot of people who would love this and find it profoundly moving, but I can't wholeheartedly recommend it. I'm very conflicted.

EuSei Nov 18, 2015

Yes, this is a haunting book, but difficult to read… And not because the author lacked talent, but because it reveals the horror of Nazi occupied France, it exposes the repulsive Vel' d'Hiv episode. It left a horrific blood stain in France the Parisians were eager to hide and very sadly, few people nowadays know this story… On July of 1942, on the orders of German military authorities, French police brutally arrested all Jewish families in Paris, more than thirteen thousand people. Ironically the French called it "Operation Spring Breeze"… The official story was that they were being sent to work camps, but almost all of them perished in concentration camps. The many horrible details of this crime committed by the French are detailed in this novel. The suffering of these families, young and old, mothers, fathers, children, hurdled in sub-human conditions, treated worse than animals, unfolds in all its unbelievable, naked truth: no food or water, nowhere to sleep, no sanitary facilities. The velodrome had a glass ceiling and in the heat of summer the place became a gigantic oven. People who tried to escape were shot and some resorted to suicide. In these two days in the Velodrome d’Hiver, the French people gave the Jewish a taste of the suffering they were going to face: their final destination was none other than Auschwitz! One character in the book says: “Bringing back the past is never a good idea, especially whatever happened during the war. No one wants to be reminded of that, nobody wants to think about that.” Yet, reality demonstrates that such amnesia can be deadly. Communist gulags all over the world come to my mind. And more recently religion became a copycat to Hitler’s final solution. Adding to this the thousands of innocents guillotined by the French “revolution,” their imperialistic moves into other countries, it doesn’t seem to me the French have much of which to be proud.

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Quotes

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mrsgail5756 Apr 03, 2013

“If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.” -George Washington

f
fearlessforever
Dec 11, 2012

I realized I could not longer bear this alone. I felt isolated, broken. (William (288)

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fearlessforever
Dec 11, 2012

I don't want to know. (William 239)

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fearlessforever
Dec 11, 2012

My world felt hollow, empty. (Julia 242)

f
fearlessforever
Dec 11, 2012

She did not bow her head in shame. She stood straight, her chin high. She wiped away the tears. (Sarah 58)

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fearlessforever
Dec 11, 2012

Nothing would ever be the same again. (57)

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fearlessforever
Dec 11, 2012

No respect for the past. (266)

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fearlessforever
Dec 11, 2012

Sometimes it's better not to know. (127)

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fearlessforever
Dec 11, 2012

The truth is harder than ignorance.(124)

f
fearlessforever
Dec 11, 2012

Not one day has gone by without me thinking of you. (Sarah 259)

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Age

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EuSei Nov 21, 2015

EuSei thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over

a
Alohaohana
May 02, 2013

Alohaohana thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

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fearlessforever
Dec 11, 2012

fearlessforever thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

white_ape_15 Nov 25, 2012

white_ape_15 thinks this title is suitable for 9 years and over

livielou97 Dec 19, 2011

livielou97 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

v
varaidzo89
Dec 09, 2011

varaidzo89 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

MadPen May 04, 2011

MadPen thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

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fbryant
Mar 24, 2011

Notices

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fearlessforever
Dec 11, 2012

Coarse Language: Very mild occasional course language

f
fearlessforever
Dec 11, 2012

Other: This is definitely a very mature novel. I would not recommend it for those under at least 12 years of age. It addresses some very poignant topics.(Family Separation, Death, Suicide, War (the Holocaust), Abortion, Relationships ect) It is an amazing book, it will change the way that you see things and give you a lot of perspective on what the Holocaust was really like.

Dimmu16 Apr 30, 2012

Frightening or Intense Scenes: The 1942 parts.

Dimmu16 Apr 30, 2012

Violence: The 1942 parts are very violent.

Dimmu16 Apr 30, 2012

Coarse Language: Every good book has a few swears!

Summary

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bnotash70 May 15, 2012

A Jewish girl in Paris hides her little brother in the closet and locks it when the Gestapo comes for them, promising that she will come back for him...she escapes from the concentration camp and returns, but he has died. There is a subplot about the family who got the apartment afterwards and their descendants. and one of the wives, who is a journalist and searches the story of the little girl, and finds out the first story.

e
elinpat
Apr 24, 2012

Haunting story of children caught in the holicaust that was carried out in Paris by the French themselves, the denial by the next generation and the discovery of the story of one doomed family by an American expat married into a French family. Her pursuit of the story which took place in her husband's family home tears the family and her marriage apart.

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