I love to read just about anything, as long as it's fiction. I read for me - that means I read what I want, when I want. My reviews tend to mostly be based on how I'm able to personally connect with the story/characters. They are not intended to influence someone to read, or not read, a particular book. I always encourage people to take a chance and make up your own mind.
Oh, and I love chocolate.
I'm a bit conflicted about Sarah's Key. Based on the subject matter alone, this is definitely a book I'd recommend others to read. After experiencing this book and The Book Theif, I've realized that I am far too ignorant about the events that took place during the time of the Holocaust. In Sarah's Key, the author notes a few times that the French wanted to forget. They didn't want to talk about it. I think that's true of most people. We want to pretend that these events were far in the past. That we don't need to know about them. The Vel' d'Hiv' roundup was only 73 years ago. I'm disappointed in my education and in myself for not knowing about any of this sooner (I'm 41 at the time of writing this).
I was very entranced by Sarah's story and the fate of her family. I'm deeply saddened by the horrors that the Jews had to face during that time. The history alone is reason to pick up this book.
However, my rating is on the book and not the historical events it is based on. The book alternates between the past (Sarah's story) and the present (Julia's story). I had a difficult time with this format. It disrupted the emotional connection I had to Sarah's story. I think I would have experienced a much deeper emotional connection if it was Sarah's story alone. Yet, on the other hand, Julia's story showed me how we have moved on as a society. How we have buried our heads and have chosen to ignore what happened.
I think the main issue I had with Sarah's Key is that I didn't particularly like Julia. I struggled with the contrast of her complete passion and dedication to figuring out Sarah's story and her lack of compassion and connection to the state of her marriage. Julia often spoke of an emptiness inside of her - but that was only for not yet knowing how Sarah's story played out. There is no similar description when dealing with her marital challenges. After 15 years of marriage, I find that either hard to believe or heartless. It's possible that she gave up on her husband years ago, but even then I'd think that she'd feel some sort of void for the hope of a happy future. Something - anything - rather than the cold and detached view we were provided. She also never stood up to her husband. Yes, I know in real life there are women who put up with a broken relationship for far too long and often blame themselves for it. But in my mind that doesn't make it right and I don't really want to read a book about a powerful subject matter that's narrated by a push-over.
Near the end of the book Julia is praised for her behavior, stating that she was 'brave'. In my opinion, her actions were not based on bravery. They were based on selfishness. I'm not saying that I disagree with her actions, just the reasons behind them.
Overall, I'd recommend this book to others. You may not be as turned off by Julia as I was, making the book that much more enjoyable for you.