It's Paris in July of 1942. Ten year old Sarah Starzynski hears pounding on the door of her apartment. It's the French police sent to round up her family on the orders of the Germans who are occupying the city. Thinking they won't detain her for long, she locks her four year old brother in a secret cabinet promising to return for him.
In Paris 60 years later, journalist Julia Jarmond is assigned to cover the 60th anniversary of the Vel d'Hiv-the round up of all the Jewish families in Paris. While doing research for her article, Julia discovers the story of the Starzynski family and soon becomes deeply involved in a quest to find out what happened to Sarah Starzynski-and even finds a shocking connection to her own family.
Sarah's Key is a remarkable story. I had never heard of the Vel d'Hiv-a dark chapter in France's history. It is most shocking that these Jewish families were not detained by the Nazis but were rounded up by the French police force. Their own countrymen whom they relied on for protection betrayed thousands of them-men, women, and children and sent them to their doom. Sarah's story is especially heartbreaking. Even as she is going through the horrors of being sent to the camps and separated from her family, all she can think about is getting back to her apartment in Paris and getting her brother out of his hiding place.
I liked how the book switched from Sarah's trials in 1942 to Julia conducting her research of the round up in 2002. Even as her personal life unravels she continues her mission to learn if Sarah escaped or was sent to Auschwitz. Julia would uncover another piece to the puzzle and then it would switch back to Sarah's story relating what really happened. I was left wanting more after every chapter and just had to keep reading to find out what happened next. The story flowed beautifully and has really stuck with me since I put it down. I have read several books about the holocaust and this is one of the best. I would say if you were going to read one book this year on the holocaust make it this one! It's one of my best reads of the year so far and it will break your heart.