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Sarah's Key

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

120 out of 122 people found this review helpful.

Sarah's Key

In this book, Tatiana DeRosnay creates two parallel stories which eventually intersect and each completes the other. One story takes place in 1942 when a young Jewish girl and her family are rounded up by the French police who detain them before sending them to the Nazi...
In this book, Tatiana DeRosnay creates two parallel stories which eventually intersect and each completes the other. One story takes place in 1942 when a young Jewish girl and her family are rounded up by the French police who detain them before sending them to the Nazi gas chambers. The second story concerns a modern-day journalist who discovers the fact that the French turned Jews over to the Nazis and decides to write a story about it. The journalist has troubles of her own and her pursuit of the truth threatens her husband's family and her marriage. This is an engrossing story which is based on an actual incident and is one of the best books I've read in awhile. Profoundly moving.

posted by Tidbitsofscott on September 17, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

67 out of 84 people found this review helpful.

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posted by 9450618 on August 21, 2011

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  • Posted March 3, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A Tad Juvenile

    First of all, this was a very easy read. The author's writing style is very simple and with the way the chapters are set up every other page was only half filled, making the 300 page book feel like 150 instead.

    Every other chapter for the first half of the book was about war-torn France and Nazi death camps. The book was very educational in this sense on the Vel' d'Hiv', an event of which I was unaware until reading this book. I felt that this portion of the book was actual believable and I wished that more time was spend on the 11-year-old who was main character of this section.

    Every other chapter, however, was set in modern-day Paris from the point-of-view of a 45-year-old. Her so-called romantic life did not thrill me in the least and I found it an absolute bore. I don't know if it was lack of depth in all the characters or if it was the 45-year-old acting like a 17-year-old or what but I was almost frustrated by how juvenile the entire story was. It made the touching story from the 1940s that was happening on every other page seem less important, less sensitive, and less meaningful.

    I would have preferred a stronger protagonist, deeper characters, and more impressive writing from the author. If you end up liking this book, below are a couple of books I recommend that are easy to read and have uncomplicated storylines, much like this one.

    22 out of 25 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2012

    Could Have Done Without Julia's Story

    At first, I found myself having difficulty putting this book down. The chapters were short, Julia’s mission clear, and Sarah’s storyline was gripping, fast-paced, and terribly tragic. However, after Sarah’s voice ends, so does the interest for me. Upon first reading, I thought that this book would be more about Sarah and her journey through the holocaust, focusing on her emotions, development, and grief. Rather, it was more about the life of Julia, the journalist, which I didn’t particularly care about. I was less interested in reading about Julia’s failed marriage and mid-life baby crisis.

    I felt more satisfaction in reading about Sarah’s life and the Vel d’Hiv round-up (of which I was previously, sadly unaware), and would have liked more on the aftermath of the war and its impact on Sarah and her family. I am glad to have read the book because of the historical significance of Vel d’Hiv. However, Julia’s story took up too much of the end, felt contrived, and was too predictable.

    8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 9, 2010

    Book Club Gives a Mixed Review

    The majority of our book club members didn't know about the events in Paris 1942 so we were overwhelmingly appalled by the atrocities which occurred during the Vel d'Hiv round-up. The author's vivid descriptions of the conditions in the Vel D'Hiv reveal not only the horror but also the many human reactions (good and bad) of all the participants. Our book club had a lively discussion about the Vichy government, collaboration and on a more personal note, the personality traits and displays of character by Sarah's parents.
    AND ... we all agreed that the contemporary time story fell short and disappointed us in many ways. The appearance of Sara's son and Julia's connection to him were the last in a long line of trite and coincidental events that marred the contemporary time story.
    BUT ... if your book club is looking for a book that will spark discussion, read Sarah's Key.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 13, 2010

    My Niece Loved It, I Did Not

    I bought this book on the recommendation of my young niece. I really didn't become that engaged. I found the back and forth between WWII and the present distracting as I really found the main character somewhat annoying and whiney. I wish the author had just stuck to the story of the children. We have been to Auschwitz and seen the piles of children's shoes, cut off braids, etc. The story of what happened to Sarah and those children could easily have carried the book. But I did get something from the book....a new piece of information. The round up of the children by the French was something new to me. I went to look for more details. There are so many great books out there on this horrible period. I just can't say this is the one I would recommend. It has interestingly been chosen for our Amnesty International Book Club for April. So it appears that my opinion does not match with that of others.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 16, 2012

    Sarah¿s Key is written in a unique structure in which two entire

    Sarah’s Key is written in a unique structure in which two entirely opposite perspectives (in regards to time, circumstance, age, etc) are given and eventually become delicately interwoven with each other to display a unique alignment between two characters. The themes that are continuous throughout the entire novel can be applied to each character’s perspective. Although solemn, the historical aspects of the book, I feel, are under-represented in the realm of history, but de Rosnay brings the situation of France to light for her readers. The realism in the plot and the reactions of her characters can be appreciated as well. Although the style of Sarah’s Key is more rudimentary than expected, the book is a fast read that provides an excellent storyline by combining elements of non-fiction and fiction.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 17, 2012

    A little over the top

    I didnt feel like i could sympathize with the narrator, she was very selfish. I did enjoy the author's emotional retelling of the Vel d'Hiv roundup. That was good storytelling

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 31, 2012

    Sarah's Key

    Several people recommended Sarah's Key to me; so I approached it with enthusiasm. However, it never quite lived up to my expectations. I found it to be anti-climactic. I cared about Sarah but not really about Julia.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2012

    Good Read

    I thought this was a good read, however, the story ended before the book did, the end was a little boring.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 15, 2011

    So sad

    Very sad story with a good ending. Kept me turning the pages wanting to know what happened next to Sarah. A little bit of mystery. A bit of a history lesson as well. Recommend.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 23, 2010

    Meh

    The story is certainly interesting, but the writing is really bad. The second rate writing is too bad, because the topic - the roundup of Paris' Jews, and France's deep involvement -- is history worth reciting and remembering. Maybe this book was intended for junior high-aged kids, not adults.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 22, 2010

    Better for Having Read...

    Overall, this is a book worth reading. If your only takeaway from this book is a history lesson, and an appreciation for a person's struggles in such tragic times then you are better for reading it. This is never a book I would have picked up for myself - as it's subject is too heavy for my taste. The only reason I did purchase and make it through reading (there were plenty of times I wanted to put it down and NEVER go back to it) was for a book club. This book left me with sleepless nights thinking, replaying what I read and thinking some more. It is so dark I had to hold the character out at arm's length so that I would not find myself playing in her mind/role.

    There are two inter-weaving stories - separated nicely by a change in font (if you read it I am sure you will appreciate the font change - it's a small detail, but it's a nice one).

    For me, the ending was not enough and felt too contrived.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 14, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Just okay.

    I enjoy historical fiction very much. But I did not like the mixing of a contemporary story and the holocaust. The writing was very weak. Disappointing.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2010

    basically I enjoyed the book

    I enjoyed the plot but the way the story changed after the almost abortion and finding and meeting of the families seems to me to have gone a bit convoluted.


    It was a thrilling story at the beginning........ Not so the last several chapters........

    Ending was good.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 19, 2009

    Too predictable.

    The book has a wonderful concept/premise, but the plot is so predictable. And, just when you think the story is building, you find out the truth about Sarah's future. From that point on, I only finished it because my book club was discussing it the following week.

    It had promise, but didn't fulfill my expectations.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 30, 2009

    Weak Ending

    The first half of the book had me interested and reading with fervor, but soon it began to lack and I was left disappointed with the unimaginative ending. The only reason that I even rated the book this high was because it introduced me to the events of the Vélodrome d'hiver, which were simply horrific, and which until buying this book I never knew had taken place. A historical event so immersed in anguish and tragedy was dulled with the plot of a failing romance. Julia Jarmonds character didn't really come to life for me. All in all, I was left unfulfilled by the book in the end, which is a shame because there is so much potential in it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 6, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    There's always a but....

    A couple of weeks ago my cousin and I went to San Francisco, we took different flights home seeing as my stay was a bit longer so while waiting for her flight my cousin bought this book. Just before she left I asked her what she found to read and I was happy to hear we were both reading the same book... Well that was just about the only exciting thing about this book, the fact that we were both reading it. After we had both finished it, it turned out we had the same opinion about it also. The book is good and has a good story line but we both agreed that the main character was too obsessed (which honestly ruined it for me). I don't want to go into too much detail and ruin the book for you, but I really thought the ending was a bit disappointing. I don't know what I was expecting but that just wasn't it. It had a good climax but the ending was too disappointing for the way the book was going.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 1, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A Good Beginning

    I started this book, intrigued by the premise of the lost boy and key, and it held me through much of the book as it was separated into past and present chapters. I don't want to give it all away, but what happened to Sarah was implausible; what happened in the apartment after her family were taken away was impossible. Thus the present day chapters made no sense at all. Perhaps the mystery I have just painted will cause someone to read it, and that's okay. Just be prepared to suspend reality and go with the story as written.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 27, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    You'll live if you don't read it, but its still a good book..

    My favorite part of this book was Sarah's (the girl from the Holocaust) perspective. Her perspective ended about half way through the book, and I feel that if it was carried on, the book would have had more meaning. The second half of the book had interesting and touching events happening, but I expected to be more moved by the book. However, I would not call this book disappointment. The story is touching and the author's writing is able to keep a reader's attention. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to read a good book - and is not expecting anything to come of it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 22, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Sarah's Key Disappoints

    The ending was too predictable.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 6, 2009

    Fade at the end

    This book reminded me of a six furlong front runner entered into a 1 1/4 mile race. Its beginning was fast paced, breathtaking, suspenseful, informative, dramatic. I was hooked. Then it slowly faded until it ended in a soap operaish climax as it was passed by the field. The alternating segments between the events in 1942 and the discovery events of 2002 were interesting and presented a suspenseful contrast. The presentation of the tragedy was moving. But then the book began to run out of steam. The ease of locating someone after 50 years, the playing out of the secondary plot lines, the predictable responses of the players, all detracted from a well written first half. It moved from a "can't put it down" experience to a "when will it end" situation. The last half wasn't bad. The discovery of family secrets long held from within were moving. But it wasn't enough to sustain the edge created in the book's first half. At the end you wondered if you were reading a script from "Days of Our Lives". It was more feminist than fresh, more pro-life than about life. It just sunk to the level of daytime television and eroded the fine effort of the first part.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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