There is a duel storyline in this book. The first takes place in July of 1942 in Paris. Sarah, a ten year old girl, is brutally arrested along with her family. I had heard about the roundups in history by the Nazis, but I did not know that this particular roundup was actually conducted by the French police, on orders from the Nazis. The Jewish people arrested were taken to Vel’ d’ Hiv’ – a stadium, and made to live there under brutal conditions for days, before being moved to concentration camps outside of Paris, and eventually on to Auschwitz.
Sarah didn’t really know too much about what was going on, and thinking she would be back in a couple of hours, she locked her four year old brother in a secret cupboard.
The other storyline in the book is in 2002, around Julia, a journalist originally from America, who has been living in Paris with her husband for the last 25 years. They have a daughter as well. On the 60th anniversary of Vel’ d’ Hiv’, Julia is given an assignment to write a story on the roundup, and the aftermath. Upon doing a bit of research, she finds out that the apartment that she, her husband and daughter are renovating to move in to, which has been in her husbands’ family for many years, is the very apartment that Sarah was taken from when she was ten, and the place of the unthinkable fate of her brother.
Julia decides to dig deeper into the history and find out about Sarah, becoming slightly obsessed with finding out what happened, and trying in a sense to make up for it. The story follows her journey and we learn of Sarah’s as well.
There really aren’t any happy endings in this book to be honest. Things aren’t perfect at the end, but you get the sense that everything is going to be okay.
I read this book in a couple of days, and probably would have finished it quicker, but life gets in the way sometimes, as we all know. Some of the images in this book are still with me. I will remember the details of this one for a long time to come.
5/5 stars. Loved it.