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Y'all I did something yesterday that I haven't done since the last Harry Potter book came out: I read an entire book in one day.

One day.

I sat down after breakfast and my shower to read Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay.

I read. And read. And read.

I thought, I should go workout. But I kept reading.

I thought, I should do the laundry. But I ignored the machine's beeping and kept reading.

I thought, I should eat lunch. But I ignored my stomach's rumbling and kept reading.

To say that I loved this book would be to state the obvious. de Rosnay's book follows the intertwining stories of Julia and Sarah. Julia is an American journalist, living in Paris in the early 2000's. When Julia is assigned to research the Vel' d'Hiv' roundup in July 1942 she stumbles across the story of Sarah Starzynski, one of the children rounded up that July.

I don't know about you, but I had not heard of the Vel' d'Hiv' roundup until I read this book. After some research I found out that the roundup did take place. In July 1942, French police arrested 13,000+ Jewish Parisiens and corralled them in the Vel' d'Hiv', an arena where bike races had previously taken place. The families were kept in the arena for 5 days with minimal food and water. The families were then shipped to French internment camps where they were held for a brief period before being shipped to Auschwitz.

31% of those in the Vel' d'Hiv' were children. 31%.  Most of these children were separated from their parents. When they reached Auschwitz, the children were not sorted but were immediately gassed.

For me, one of the most shocking aspects was the fact that the raid was conducted by the French police, not the Germans.

Sarah's Key does justice to the story of the Vel' d'Hiv' without casting people into neat black and white categories. de Rosnay does a wonderful job capturing the complex emotional aspects of the entire event, showcasing the differing reactions of French citizens, police officers, and victims.

Yes Sarah's Key is sad. It's impossible to write about the Holocaust in only joyful, happy terms. But there's hope scattered throughout the story. The topic, while tragic, needs to be remembered, to be understood. At the end of the day, it's a beautiful story about the human spirit and how people responded to tragedy.

"Zakhor. Al Tichkah. Remember. Never Forget."
-From Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

Image from here

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