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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sarah's Key

One of the best parts about our trip to Las Vegas was being chauffeured by Tim which gave me several hours to read.  Luckily I don't get carsick - I read one book on the way there and another on the way back.  I love when I can basically read a book in one setting.  The first I read was Sara's Key.  I know this book has been on a lot of best seller lists and read by a lot of book clubs for the past few years.  I finally picked it up for this trip and was so glad I did.

If you don't know anything about the book, here's a brief summary:
Paris, July 1942: Sarah, a ten year-old Jewish girl, is arrested by the French police in the middle of the night, along with her mother and father. Desperate to protect her younger brother, she locks him in a cupboard and promises to come back for him as soon as she can. Paris, May 2002: Julia Jarmond, an American journalist, is asked to write about the 60th anniversary of the Vel’ d’Hiv’—the infamous day in 1942 when French police rounded up thousands of Jewish men, women and children, in order to send them to concentration camps. Sarah's Key is the poignant story of two families, forever linked and haunted by one of the darkest days in France’s past. In this emotionally intense, page-turning novel, Tatiana de Rosnay reveals the guilt brought on by long-buried secrets and the damage that the truth can inflict when they finally come unravelled.
For as much as I read, sometimes it amazes me how many things I know little to nothing about - one of those was the Vel' d'Hiv'.  There are countless tragic events surrounding the holocaust but because of the way the story was told, this one seemed so personal and even more heartbreaking than most.  Apparently Parisians still see this as a real black eye on their city and are not anxious to talk about it. I thought the author did a fantastic job of weaving together the history and modern day fiction with the stories of two separate families.   The characters in the modern day story were a little one dimensional to me, but even so, I still cared about their stories and what happened to everyone involved.  I cried a few times and really just felt so much more aware of some tough events of the past.  It made me realize that even at it's perceived worst, my life is pretty easy.

The second book I read was The Weight of Silence.

It happens quietly one August morning. As dawn's shimmering light drenches the humid Iowa air, two families awaken to find their little girls have gone missing in the night.
Seven-year-old Calli Clark is sweet, gentle, a dreamer who suffers from selective mutism brought on by tragedy that pulled her deep into silence as a toddler.
Calli's mother, Antonia, tried to be the best mother she could within the confines of marriage to a mostly absent, often angry husband. Now, though she denies that her husband could be involved in the possible abductions, she fears her decision to stay in her marriage has cost her more than her daughter's voice.
Petra Gregory is Calli's best friend, her soul mate and her voice. But neither Petra nor Calli has been heard from since their disappearance was discovered. Desperate to find his child, Martin Gregory is forced to confront a side of himself he did not know existed beneath his intellectual, professorial demeanor.
Now these families are tied by the question of what happened to their children. And the answer is trapped in the silence of unspoken family secrets.

 I didn't know anything about this book or the author, but the picture on the front and the first paragraph were pretty interesting.   The first paragraph is often my criteria for choosing books, basically one shot to hook me.  The summary sounded like a narrative that could be really great or pretty mediocre.  Unfortunately, the rest of the book didn't quite live up to my expectations.  It was a decent read since I had time to kill, but fell on the side of very mediocre.  I basically haven't thought about it since and can't hardly remember the name of the book.  The characters were pretty simple and it was tough to believe in all of the coinciding events.  Even though the story line should have been pretty upsetting, I wasn't invested enough in anyone to really care.  It wasn't a horrible read but it certainly wouldn't make the top of any of my must read lists.

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