Friday, February 27, 2009

Book Review #4, #5

I do recommend Sarah's Key, by Tatiana De Rosnay.

I am definitely not a history buff, so maybe it's no surprise that I had never heard of the Vel'd'Hiv roundup. July 1942, Paris, France: French police gathered thousands of Jews, including 4,000 children, and locked them all in the Vel'd'Hiv stadium, previously used for bike racing. The days they spent in that stadium were horrific: people committed suicide, had babies, starved, etc.

This book tells the story of Sarah, a 10-year-old girl who was part of that round-up. When she and her parents were arrested, she left her little brother in their apartment, locked inside of a cupboard so he would be safe. Sarah didn't know that after their trip to the Vel'd'Hiv stadium, she and the other Jews would be taken to a camp, brutally separated from their family members, and then shipped to Auschwitz. (The part where they force the mothers to leave their children, even babies and toddlers, was the most horrible for me. To imagine my babies wandering around without anyone they know, hungry and dirty...) Sarah manages to escape and is determined to go find her little brother.

The story alternates between Sarah's story in 1942 and Julia's story in 2002. Julia is an American journalist researching the Vel'd'Hiv' roundup in Paris. She discovers Sarah's story and finds some intriguing connections between her own family and Sarah's. I was fascinated by the events that occurred in 1942 and Sarah's story. One review on the back of the book says, "It will make you cry--and remember," and that was definitely true for me! However, I was disappointed when, about 2/3 of the way through the book, the author shifted to tell more of Julia's story instead of Sarah's. It seemed more like a romance novel at the end than historical fiction. But I still definitely recommend this book!

I don't recommend The Virgin of Small Plains, by Nancy Pickard. It was actually a really enticing mystery novel: it begins with the discovery of a young girl's body and then slowly reveals more and more details about who she was and how she died...the whole time I was guessing and deliberating about what might have happened.

But, it was one of those books where you finish it and go, "Was it really worth my time to read that?? Was it worth letting Carson discover each item in my make-up bag and destroy the eye-shadow so I could keep reading? Was it worth staying up late to read and then falling asleep on the playroom floor the next day until Carson bit me to wake me up?" For me, the answer was NO. (Sort of like Twilight.)

If you love a good mystery/romance, read it, but I didn't love it!


enemith00 said...

Paige, can I borrow your "Virgin of White Plains"? I would love to read it to see what my thoughts are. Thanks!

Meg said...

I felt the same way about Virgin of Small Plains (and for the record, when I suggested it for book club, I was halfway through and totally intrigued!) But when it ended I was kind of like...oh, ok. Entertaining while I read it but it didn't stick with me.

davidandsuzi said...

I can't believe you dissed Twilight like that. I'm so sad.

Tammy said...

Page! I am so happy you found my blog! Your blog is absolutely darling. Congrats on a healthy 4th member of the family on the way!

JenSwen said...

I love it when you do book reviews. I added Sarah's Key to my list of books to read.