Book Review: Sarah’s Key

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Author: Tatiana de Rosney

Pages: 294

Synopsis: Sarah’s Key follows two very different story lines. We start by following Sarah, a young 10-year old living in Paris, France during WWII with her parents and her little brother. In July of 1942, her along with her parents (she locked her brother in a cupboard for safety) and all other Jewish members of Paris are arrested by French police in what is known as the Vel’ d’Hiv’ roundup.

Move forward to 2005, where Julia, a 45 year old journalist is tasked with writing a story about the Vel’ d’Hiv’ and what happened near the anniversary of the roundup. Through her research, Julia learns about Sarah’s story and the connection it has with her French family. A story that will change Julia’s life and her family’s life forever.

Review: If you follow my blog, you know I read a lot about WWI and WWII. In fact, this is the 7th book this year alone that follows different stories as it relates to WWII. I’ve read about Italy, Russia, Poland, Germany and now France. Each with a totally different perspective on the war, but all with the same outcome — pain.

I read a lot on WWII because it’s always about an event that I didn’t read about in school and I feel like I can’t fully grasp everything that happened without reading these stories. This is a significant plot in Sarah’s Key. People have forgotten or they just don’t know about events that took place in France. That story line never leaves this book, it follows to the very end and becomes an important reminder to never forget.

This story reminded me a lot Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah and Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum in the sense that we follow two different stor ylines and see them diverge together. If you’ve read them and enjoyed them, I bet this would be another one you would enjoy. But that’s where the similarities end.

De Rosney finds a way to break your heart in more pieces than you thought imaginable. I have read a lot of stories on WWII, I thought I’ve read it all (how very wrong was I). This story doesn’t falter in it’s detail of the Vel’ d’Hiv’ roundup and the events that followed, it shows the inhumanity and the goodness all on one page. It speaks of the heroes and survivors. It reminds us that even after the War, the people who lived throughout it will never be the same, and for some it’s easier to forget than remember what happened. What was so interesting in this story was the beginning about Sarah, for most of her chapters you were never told her name (obviously we knew by the title), she was just known as “the girl”, which for many of Jewish descent was how they were viewed during WWII. For some reason this resonated more to me than anything else. It was a sad reminder of what people had to endure.

For more information on the Vel’ d’Hiv’ roundup, you can go to the link: https://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10008213

Then you have Julia, who is determined to not let the past be forgotten. Who, once she knows the story of the roundup and the French police involvement, she can’t stop thinking about the children and adults who perished. This is no longer a story for a journalist but a story for Julia and Julia alone, a story she must find the ending to, without she feels hollow. She is determined to find a way to let people who are still suffering from the aftereffects that there are people in this world that have not forgotten, who won’t forget. Her determination is one that is admirable. She doesn’t see these events as just that, she sees it for what it was.

My only critique of this story was all the involvement of Julia’s family. I actually enjoyed the family mystery and how it connected back to Sarah, it was interesting, it was a mystery and there were twists and turns I didn’t see coming. What I didn’t like was what I felt as an unnecessary story line (I’m sure others disagree). I won’t spoil what I mean by this, it also didn’t ruin the story for me, I could have just lived without it. In fact, I’m happy I read it, I’m happy I now know yet another tragedy from the War that I did not know before, because we should never forget.

Have you read Sarah’s Key? Or any of the other stories listed above? If so, comment below!

Overall Rating: 4/5 stars

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Favorite Quotes of May

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May reading went by pretty quickly. Unfortunately I didn’t get as many books in as I would have liked, to be honest, I think the reading might start to slow down a bit which is really unfortunate. Anyway, here are the best quotes from the books I read.

“I am different from what my world demands I be. And I am not worse for it.”
Victoria Aveyard, War Storm

 

 

“It is strange, I thought, how we always recognize our best memories in hindsight.”
Tanaz Bhathena, A Girl Like That
 
“ I think my heart knew you were mine long before I ever realized it.”
Sarah J. Maas, A Court of Frost and Starlight

 

“Nothing is ever quite right, is it, after a parent dies? No matter how well things go, something always feels slightly off…”
Jenna Blum, Those Who Save Us

War Storm

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Author: Victoria Aveyard

Red Queen Series #4

Pages: 662

Goodreads Synopsis: War Storm Mare Barrow learned this all too well when Cal’s betrayal nearly destroyed her. Now determined to protect her heart—and secure freedom for Reds and newbloods like her—Mare resolves to overthrow the kingdom of Norta once and for all… starting with the crown on Maven’s head.
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But no battle is won alone, and before the Reds may rise as one, Mare must side with the boy who broke her heart in order to defeat the boy who almost broke her. Cal’s powerful Silver allies, alongside Mare and the Scarlet Guard, prove a formidable force. But Maven is driven by an obsession so deep, he will stop at nothing to have Mare as his own again, even if it means demolishing everything—and everyone—in his path.

War is coming, and all Mare has fought for hangs in the balance. Will victory be enough to topple the Silver kingdoms? Or will the little lightning girl be forever silenced?

In the epic conclusion to Victoria Aveyard’s stunning series, Mare must embrace her fate and summon all her power… for all will be tested, but not all will survive.

Review:

I was devastated at the end of King’s Cage. I felt betrayed by Cal just like Mare did. Luckily Aveyard leaves off literally hours after Cal’s betrayal so there is no time jump between stories which I appreciated a lot of.

For Farley, for my family. And still, always, for him.

Speaking of stories, this one is in the perspective of Mare, Mahan, Cal, Iris and Evangeline. I love that Aveyard does this, it really makes the story more impactful for me. Not only is there this character development, but you get a glimpse into each of these characters perspectives instead of only one character thinking they understand the other.

“But we all still have the ability to choose, in the end.”

Oh did I mention character development? There’s a lot of that, and each character in this story has some part to play, I can honestly say that this is the first YA fantasy story where I didn’t find any of the characters annoying (okay, Mare at one point but really not enough to point out). These kids are trying to figure out who they are, what’s important to them and fight a war, it’s a lot to take in and they are acting more like adults than the adults.

Speaking of war, Aveyard finds this perfect blend to connect the two wars we’ve been reading about in this conclusion. Props to her for doing so.

But here’s the thing. I need more, the ending left me unsatisfied. I didn’t get the closure that I wanted which really stinks. I needed just one more chapter. However there is a rumor of novellas in the future that I hope is true.

Overall Rating: 4/5 stars

Book Review: Those We Save Us

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Author: Jenna Blum

Pages: 479

Goodreads Synopsis: “For fifty years, Anna Schlemmer has refused to talk about her life in Germany during World War II. Her daughter, Trudy, was only three when she and her mother were liberated by an American soldier and went to live with him in Minnesota. Trudy’s sole evidence of the past is an old photograph: a family portrait showing Anna, Trudy, and a Nazi officer, the Obersturmfuhrer of Buchenwald.

Driven by the guilt of her heritage, Trudy, now a professor of German history, begins investigating the past and finally unearths the dramatic and heartbreaking truth of her mother’s life.”

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Review: I didn’t LOVE this book but I did really enjoy the perspective of Germany during WWII. The only other book I’ve read in the perspective of Germany was The Book Thief, and while I’ve read numerous WWII stories, this was the first the examined what life for a German woman during the War may have been like. The story goes from the present to the past with the story of Anna during the War. The story examines what I’m sure is true on how women felt they needed to survive during the War. But it does more than that, it shows that not all people are one dimensional during this time period, while some were exactly how you would expect, Blum dives a little deeper to bring to life an understanding that might have been considered one sided for so long.

For more information and to grab the book from Amazon, click here

Let’s be honest, we all know I enjoy interpretations of WWII so even if this story had some spots that felt a little long, my rating is still going to be high mainly because I feel every story, every perspective and every interpretation during a time of such hatred and unnecessary evil deserves to be understood and read.

Overall Rating: 4/5 stars