Sarah’s Key, by Tatiana de Rosnay, tells two intertwined stories, that of a French Jewish girl who is arrested with her family at age 10 during World War II, and that of an American woman married to a French man and living in Paris in the 2000s. In the first half of the book, the chapters alternate between the two stories, but in the second half the perspective remains solely with the contemporary story. It is a fairly quick read – I read about half of it on a 2.5 hour plane flight – and overall I mildly enjoyed it, but it did not live up to my expectations based on the “bestseller” hype.
The story of the Jewish girl, Sarah, is immensely painful and essentially does not have a happy ending. It seemed like a fairly accurate portrayal of the reality of the war for many people, but it isn’t really something I personally need to be reminded of in such detail. A theme through-out the book is to not forget what happened; I can guarantee you I won’t forget, and I didn’t need this book to remind me. Still along the lines of the story of Sarah, I found the title a bit misleading. It implied to me that there was going to be a special, perhaps surprising, occurrence related to this key, but it quickly became clear that instead it was predictable and the most painful moment of the story. Clearly I just set myself up with incorrect expectations.
The contemporary story was mildly interesting, but fairly predictable and I didn’t find that I especially connected with any of the characters. The ending was satisfying and appropriate to the plot.
Oddly, I find myself thinking of this book as “light” reading, even though it deals with some heavy topics. I am not sure what to make of that, but in any case, it is decent plane or “light” reading if you can handle some intense/painful sections.