“After all these years,” she said finally, her voice subdued, almost a whisper, “after all these years, I still see the children, you know . I see them climbing onto the buses and being driven away…”
The above passage, taken from Sarah’s Key by Tatiana De Rosnay, perfectly portrays the feeling of the entire book. It is a story within a story that leaves you haunted with images in your mind and heart particularly of the children victimized during the nazi occupation of France.
The book is two stories spanning two eras told simultaneously from two different points of view. It starts out and unfolds as a memoir from the WWII era characters and then switches to a mystery novel with the modern characters going back and forth. What I found so haunting about it, is the WWII era story is told through the eyes of a child during and about a time of unthinkable violence. It’s the innocent childlike hope that keeps you reading and then in the modern era it’s the intense hope of a parent for a child that is so big it hurts. The images I conjured up in my mind while reading were painful and hard, but somewhat nostalgic because it sent me back to child like feelings and optimism and then again nostalgic of feelings I had and are continuing to have as a mother now. It’s a relatable book even though the context of the story and my life are very different.
This book makes you think about how complicated life is and the importance of connection and attachment with our fellow humans whether within our individual and extended families, in our communities and even as big as our country.
I am haunted by this book, I’ll admit it took some recovery time for me and I definitely need to read something light next. I feel I am better off for reading it though, because I am able to be more introspective about my life and realize the blessings of the era and country I live in now and the blessing my relationships are to me and how I can be more nurturing and honest about myself and what I want and need.