Paris, July 1942: Sarah, a ten year-old girl, is brutally arrested with her family by the French police in the Vel’ d’Hiv’ roundup, but not before she locks her younger brother in a cupboard in the family’s apartment, thinking that she will be back within a few hours. Paris, May 2002: On Vel’ d’Hiv’s 60th anniversary, journalist Julia Jarmond is asked to write an article about this black day in France’s past. Through her contemporary investigation, she stumbles onto a trail of long-hidden family secrets that connect her to Sarah. Julia finds herself compelled to retrace the girl’s ordeal, from that terrible term in the Vel d’Hiv’, to the camps, and beyond. As she probes into Sarah’s past, she begins to question her own place in France, and to reevaluate her marriage and her life (from goodreads)
I really enjoyed this read. Well almost. For the most part, I really enjoyed how the Tezacs and Sarah’s family are intertwined from past to present. The writing in the book is excellent and the plot itself is compelling enough to keep you engaged and reading until you finish. It may not be a very well known particular incident in Holocaust history and definitely worth looking into for more information – I myself didn’t know much about it until I read the book.
The perspective switches from Sarah to Julia. Naturally, Sarah’s story is much more interesting and compelling. You feel for her situation and her poor brother and can only think of the worst possible scenarios for her. I admired her for her determination and strength for a girl her age. It was such a great story to read and I loved it when I reached the sections featuring Sarah.
I wish I could say the same for Julia though. I didn’t care too much except for when it linked her family with Sarah’s. However the parts with Julia’s marital issues with her family? not my sort of thing and wasn’t much to my liking. I mean, okay good for her for standing up to her decisions and whatnot, but it wasn’t as interesting. Plus, towards the ending, Julia became whiny and her story just dragged too much. I was rather hoping for more about Sarah and what she did in greater detail after the war.
Overall, worth a try. I didn’t try the movie and don’t think I want to. I think once of Julia is enough for me. 🙂
I give it a 7/10