Monday, January 31, 2011

Sarah's Key

by Tatiana de Rosnay

Sarah's KeyI have a friend who can't read books about the Holocaust because it's just too traumatic. He's Jewish, so I can empathize, but until reading Sarah's Key, I didn't fully understand his hesitation. Now I get it. I'm quite sure I held my breath for the greater part of this book. The torment, torture and anguish was almost more than I could bear, especially considering that reading is supposed to be a relaxing, pleasant hobby. But, that being said, this book was powerful.

Set in Paris in 1942 as well as 2002, Sarah's Key explains the lesser publicized roundup of Parisian Jews and their eventual deportation to Auschwitz. Sarah is only 11 years old when her family is arrested and she attempts to protect her 5 year old brother, Michel, from inevitable death. The true horrors that these prisoners went through is told in extreme detail. Concurrently, in modern day, Julia Jarmond is an American living in Paris to a rat bastard Frenchman (pardon my French :). When the magazine she works for asks her to write a story of the 60th anniversary of the Roundup, she uncovers a link between her husband's family and Sarah's.

If you can classify such intense emotions and stress as enjoyable, then I enjoyed this book. It just sounds weird to say that. But I've already said that I love historical fiction, so I will use that as my hook. I do know there is NO WAY I will tell my friend to read this. But for as engaging as this was, my feelings are that the last 50 or so pages threw in the towel. Extremely sloppy and just a little too convenient an ending. You know when you're reading a book, turn the page, and automatically see the tone change? Like we just entered wrap-up mode? I really hate when this happens, but I think this was one of the most obvious hurry-up-and-get-it-over-with books I have ever encountered. It's a shame too because 80% of it was fascinating. Oh well, I would still recommend it, but maybe don't put it on the top of your list.

(p.s. In case you haven't noticed, I'm not linking the titles of the books in the body copy of these posts anymore. That's because the photo is now the link. Cool, huh?) 

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