Read: October 27, 2011
Summary: Through Sarah (initially unnamed), the book begins with her family being arrested during the summer of 1942 and sent to the Vélodrome d’Hiver. Sarah escapes the tortures of living in sub-standard environment and leaving her parents behind at the camp to return back to her Parisian home to save her younger brother.
The author fictionalizes the events of 1942 that occurred in Paris where Jewish families were arrested and deported to the Vélodrome d’Hiver to then be transported to Auschwitz or other similar camps. Through Julia, an American journalist, living in Paris with her French husband and one daughter, this aspect of Parisian history is revealed. Julia works for a newspaper geared to Americans living in Paris. As a special project commemorating the 60th anniversary of the roundups, Julia is requested to research and write piece about the Vélodrome d’Hiver. Julia discovers the secrets behind her husband’s family’s apartment acquired during the summer of 1942. These discoveries lead her to details about Sarah and her connection to the apartment, secrets carried by her husband’s family, and finally several realizations about herself.
My Thoughts: It’s a wonderful, moving story and deeply emotional as we follow Julia’s research and the effect it had on her and her family. The emotions expressed are very descriptive, particularly for the first half of the book. The research that Julia was doing regarding the Parisians’ involvement in the holocaust during the summer of 1942 was interesting and captivating. I had to google the events myself to broaden my scope. Also, the fictional story about Sarah as a child during that summer was amazing. The intertwining of the past and the present that blended into a continuous present-day story developed nicely and seamlessly which provided an intriguing storyline. The moment when the past (Sarah’s story) and present (Julia’s story) became one story spoke so loudly and resonated very deeply with me. I loved the focus and drive Julia had that allowed her to focus on Sarah as an adult once the two stories became one. Overall, it was a terrific book to read and one that I highly recommend.