by Tatiana de Rosnay
This novel has two overlapping storylines, in alternating chapters (until near the end, when it drops to one perspective). The first is about a young Jewish girl who lives in Paris. It\’s 1942, and when French police come in the middle of the night collecting Jewish families on orders of the Germans, Sarah\’s terrified four-year-old brother hides in a secret cupboard in the wall of their bedroom. She locks him in and pockets the key, promising to come back when the police let them go. But of course, they never do let them go. Sarah ends up in a camp, eventually separated from her parents, suffering from hunger, deplorable conditions, and horrific sights. All the while desperate to escape and return to the apartment where her little brother is waiting in the dark. It\’s such a sad story. The other storyline is modern time, about an American-born woman Julia, who lives in Paris working as a journalist. She is writing an article for the anniversary recognizing the day over 10,000 Parisian Jews were taken from their homes, an event which most locals around her seem to want to forget. She has a hard time finding people who remember the day and will actually talk to her. Her research leads her to the names of Sarah\’s family, and then it turns out she has a personal connection to the apartment where the little boy was left in the cupboard. As the two stories continue to dovetail, Sarah trying to find out what happened to her brother, and Julia attempting to track down the remnant\’s of Sarah\’s family, there\’s also a lot about how Julia\’s marriage is slowly unraveling, and how her life is changed by her research into the events of sixty years ago.