In WWII France, the French police rounded up over 13,000 Jews and held them in a huge stadium, the Vélodrome d'Hiver, for days before shipping the survivors off to concentration camps. This is the fictional story of one little girl who was taken and what her life might have been like. It's also the story of a modern-day journalist researching Sarah's family.
This review is not going to do this book justice. I've waited a couple of weeks to write this and my notes on it are in all honesty pretty fragmented.
I read Sarah's story with a cold horror in the pit of my stomach. There were so many ways that everything went wrong that all I can say is that I was just horrified. There were moments of kindness, as there almost always are in Holocaust stories, but the biggest part just left me speechless. Any Holocaust book that captures that feeling is an important one. We can't ever be allowed to forget what happened.
What knocked this down to four stars for me was the journalist's story. I didn't care. Parts of it were important for showing how the effects of something that happened over 60 years ago are still being felt today, but I could have done without most of the personal drama. It was insignificant in the context of a book about the Holocaust.
One little preachy thing. I could not help but be reminded of the New Orleans Superdome and Hurricane Katrina as I read this. I hope this doesn't sound like I'm trivializing the history, because I promise I'm not, but a stadium where people are trapped just brings it to my mind. This story somehow made the recent event a little more real for me and I can't believe that something like that happened in America in the 21st century. We should be ashamed.
I feel like this was an important contribution to the Holocaust literature out there. It covers an even that was shameful and horrifying and is somehow not very well known. If you have the stomach for Holocaust books, read this. We just can't forget what happened.
Reviewed August 10, 2009
Read an excerpt.
Find author Tatiana de Rosnay on her website, Facebook, and Twitter.
Buy Sarah's Key at
Friday Flashback Reviews are a weekly feature here on The Introverted Reader. These are old reviews I wrote on GoodReads. Thanks to Angieville and her Retro Friday Reviews for the inspiration and encouragement!
I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop's, my local independent bookstore located in beautiful downtown Asheville, NC; and Better World Books. I will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site. My opinions are completely my own.