Sarah, a ten year old girl, lives in Paris with her parents and brother when in 1942, French police come knocking on their door. Sarah hides her brother in a cupboard and locks him in so that the police can't take him, thinking she'll be back within the day to let him out. However Sarah doesn't know that the French Police are rounding up Jewish families and taking them to the Velodrome d'Hiver with over 10,000 others.
A stain on French history, sixty years later, Julia Jarmond is asked to write a piece on the roundup for her newspaper. An American living in Paris, Julia didn't know about this, but finds herself much closer to this piece of history than she knows. The apartment that she is moving in to with her husband and child is the one where Sarah lived and locked her brother in the cupboard.
This book switches between Sarah's narrative and Julia's narrative. Sarah's narrative is much more honest but more painful and sad. She tells her story that starts as a naive child but very quickly learns about what her parents have hidden from her and why she is being taken from home.
It's pretty easy to see where the story is going to go, but it's an interesting journey to get there. I found it simply written but got in to the novel quite quickly. About 2/3rds the way through the novel, Sarah's narrative stopped and I think it would have added a special touch to the novel to have one last chapter with the final part of her story at the end of the novel. After I had finished, I looked up the Vel d'Hiv and read about the history of this horrific event. I had never heard about it in the past and felt that this novel was a perfect way to bring this event to light.
First Line: "The girl was the first to hear the loud pounding on the door."