Quicklet on Tatiana de Rosnay's Sarah's Key

by Cheryl Lavin Rapp

What's in the book?

Quicklets: Your reading sidekick!

    • About the Book
    • About the Author
    • Synopsis
    • Chapter-By-Chapter Commentary & Summary
    • Key Character List
    • Key Terms and Definitions
    • Additional Resources and Reading



Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay tells two simultaneous narratives. One story tells the experiences of Sarah, a young Jewish-French girl living in Paris with her family during World War II. The parallel story revolves around the character of Julia Jarmond, an American journalist living in Paris with her husband and her daughter, Zoe.

As much as the book focuses on the parallel narratives of Sarah and Julia, Sarah’s Key also contains an overarching story of France. These three foci fatefully intersect during an event known as the Roundup of the Vel’d’Hiv’ on July 16, 1942, when French policemen and civil servants rounded up nearly 10,000 Jewish people. These people were sent first to internment camps in France, and then later on to their deaths at the infamous concentration camp, Auschwitz.


Cheryl Lavin Rapp has been an award-winning journalist for over 30 years. As a reporter for the Chicago Tribune and now the Chicago Sun-Times, she has covered everything from the Oscars, Emmys, and Tonys to sexual abuse by priests, and gays in the milatary. She's interviewed everyone from Harry Kissinger to Jennifer Aniston.

In addition to her thousands of feature stories, Lavin has written the popular relationship column, TALES FROM THE FRONT, since 1984. Readers share their stories of dating disasters and happy-ever-after, make-ups and break-ups.

In sum, Lavin Rapp writes about lifestyles, dating, relationships, pop culture and entertainment.


The contrast between the comfortable life of Julia, a Gentile living in Paris in 2002, and Sarah, a Jew in the same city in 1942, could not be more distinct. Sarah’s concerns are in regards to life and death, while Julia has the luxury of entertaining concerns of her appearance. However, Julia is unaware just how much her own comfortable life will be irrevocably transformed as she learns more and more of Sarah’s own life story.

Julia tries to tell Bertrand what she’s learned, and again encounters the common French attitude that asks, “Why bring that up? The past is over.” In fact, Bertrand goes on to state that “Nobody cares anymore. Nobody remembers. Write about something else. Something funny, something cute.”

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