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Sarah's Key    by Tatiana De Rosnay order for
Sarah's Key
by Tatiana De Rosnay
Order:  USA  Can
St. Martin's, 2008 (2007)
Hardcover, Softcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Joan Burton

It is July 1942 in Paris, France. Ten year old Sarah Starzynski is taken from her home along with her parents, under the cover of darkness, and arrested simply because they are Jewish. Wanting to protect her four-year-old brother Michel, Sarah locks him in a secret cupboard in their apartment, thinking they will be home shortly. But they are taken by French police, in a roundup, to the Velodrome d'Hiver outside the city, where they are kept along with thousands of others for days, with no food or water and in deplorable living conditions.

Eventually the children are separated from the parents and begin to realize they will never be going home. Trains have been taking the women and men to a place called Auschwitz and the children are next. Sarah is devastated thinking about her brother, locked in the cupboard with no food and water and waiting for his family that will never return. After Sarah is befriended by a young girl Rachel, the two plot to make their escape and get as far away from the camp as possible.

Julia Jarmmond is an American living in Paris. She has been there for the past twenty-five years and it feels like home, even though she misses her sister and parents in the US. She is a journalist and balances her job, marriage, and her eleven-year-old daughter Zoe as best she can. Julia has been given the assignment to write an article about the upcoming 60th anniversary on the Vel' d Hiv, France's dirty secret that no one wants to talk about. Thousands of Jewish men, women, and children were sent to their deaths, knowingly, by the French police.

While doing her research Julia makes a discovery about the Starzynski family who were killed in 1942. She has learned that her husband's grandmother owns the apartment in which the Jewish family lived before they were taken by the French police. Digging deeper, Julia finds a connection between the Jewish family and her husband's family, the Tezacs. Telling the Tezacs all this past history brings old secrets to the surface and soon divides the family. Under pressure to write the truth, Julia is also dealing with her own personal issues. Julia's husband Bertrand has given her an ultimatum that goes against her own ethics.

Sarah's Key tells of a tragic past colliding with the present. It is a story of parallels, Sarah in 1942, and Julia in 2002. It has mystery, suspense, and love. We learn of past history, but it is told with a contemporary feel. This is a novel you won't be able to put down until it is finished, and one of my best reads this year.

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