Paris, July 1942: Sarah, a ten year-old girl, is brutally arrested with her family by the French police in the Vel' d'Hiv' roundup, but not before she locks her younger brother in a cupboard in the family's apartment, thinking that she will be back within a few hours.
Paris, May 2002: On Vel' d'Hiv's 60th anniversary, journalist Julia Jarmond is asked to write an article about this black day in France's past. Through her contemporary investigation, she stumbles onto a trail of long-hidden family secrets that connect her to Sarah. Julia finds herself compelled to retrace the girl's ordeal, from that terrible term in the Vel d'Hiv', to the camps, and beyond. As she probes into Sarah's past, she begins to question her own place in France, and to reevaluate her marriage and her life.
This book totally captivated me. I found myself being totally irritated when things came up that interrupted the story. "What??! You want something to eat right now??! Can't you make your own sandwich??!"
Julia Jarmond finds herself pregnant in this story. I think that was one reason I was so struck by the story. She is older, her husband does not want another child, but she does desperately. I remember feeling that way when I was pregnant with Destiny. Only it wasn't that my husband didn't want a baby, it was that I was so torn. I was excited, but unsure that I wanted to start over again. Then, when our baby was stillborn, I felt so guilty for ever being unsure.
It's interesting how stories touch your own emotions and mesh with your own story. Somehow the well crafted words that created images of the soldiers tearing Jewish children away from their mothers felt like it felt when Destiny was stillborn and all the possibilities of another child in our family were torn away.