Sarah’s Key by Tatiana De Rosnay (2007)

Sarah’s Key is a good read and an important Holocaust story from a perspective I was not aware of: the French police rounding up Jews  and holding them in inhumane conditions at the Vel’ d’ Hiv’ in Paris before sending them off by train to concentration camps.  Most people, and most Parisians, picture German soldiers leading these round-ups, but in this case, it was the French taking their own French Jews to their deaths.  That part of the story is based on historical truth.  The fictional part is the story of young Sarah who tries to save her little brother by locking him in a cupboard in their bedroom in their Parisian apartment.  The apartment then becomes the connection between Sarah’s world and Julia’s, the writer whose in-law grandparents  moved into the apartment just days after Sarah’s family was taken away.  The book is written in two voices: third person narration describing Sarah’s life and fist person narration describing Julia’s.  I found this see sawing narration to be irritating, partly because each chapter is very short–just a few pages–and partly because the writing just isn’t that good, so neither character seems all that real.  And at only a few pages for each voice, there are 40-50 switches–that’s just too many.   Unlike Little Bee, a fabulous book also written in two voices, De Rosnay just doesn’t make her characters as compelling as the plot.  Still, it’s an important story and it’s worth reading, just not savoring.  (fiction)

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