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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Book Review of A Secret Kept

 When I read Sarah’s Key by author Tatiana de Rosnay last summer, I felt like crying in my room for a month.  
     Sarah, a young Jewish French girl whose family is captured by Nazi soldiers, tells her little brother to hide in the closet, more like a crawl space behind the rock fire place, promising she’ll come back for him when the soldiers leave.  Sadly, Sarah, her mom and dad are taken by train to a concentration camp and Sarah is left wondering if her little brother is able to exit the tiny, dark locked closet.  Sarah has the key to the closet in her pocket and rubs it, praying every day her brother is not scared or hurt.  The key is her hope of getting out of the hell of what she and her family are going through.   She thinks of her little brother as the days, than months go by.  As a reader and a mother, I was in serious anxiety mode.  How I wish I could get to that little boy and let him out myself, feed him, bath him and take care of him through such a horrific time of our world’s history.
Many scenes left me bewildered, but one especially stands out: 
When separating mother’s from their children, the Nazi’s did so with clever tactics.  It pained me when Sarah and her mother were sprayed with freezing water.   Instinct kicked in and mother and child loosened their grip on each other.   This was the last time Sarah saw her mother.
Sarah’s Key, one of the most moving books I’ve ever read, left me gasping, literally, even at the last page.  An event so special took my breath away and made me hold my children closer.  When I finally read the last words, I called my sister Becky, crying and contemplating the story of Sarah’s Key.  Becky had recommended the book to me and we had been reading it together, calling every day to discuss the tragedy of WWII, the evil of a man named Hitler, the horror of hate and the despair a young girl named Sarah had to suffer.
When Tatiana de Rosnay’s new book A Secret Kept came out, I had to read it.  
Like Sarah’s Key, it is beautifully written and finds beauty in awful circumstances, even death, but unlike Sarah’s Key, the story didn’t move me.  A Secret Kept follows Antoine Rey, a middle-aged divorced father through deep childhood secrets that he has to make sense out of.  Antoine’s mother died when he was 10 and his father is a non-affectionate man who no longer feels the need to be a parent.  Antoine is close to his sister, Melanie and together, they uncover secrets about their mother’s life and unfortunate death.  I appreciated Ms. Rosnay’s effort, writing from the Antoine’s perspective, a male voice, and feel she did justice to the task, but if the storyline isn’t enticing, then nothing else really matters. 
Writing is so interesting because if you have a great character, but a slow-moving plot, then the book is flat. If you have a great story but bad writing, the story doesn’t work either.  In other words, everything needs to be flowing.  The effort is there, the writing is beautiful, I felt like I was really there in that small French town in A Secret Kept, but by the time it was all said and done, I wasn’t really sure what I was doing there.


  1. i read sara's key for one of our book groups . . loved it . .then it came out on redbox and i made the hubs watch it with me . .he loved it! i'll have to try and get my hands on this new book of hers!

  2. I wonder if Sarahs Key is available on Kindle? Sounds like a good book. I really hope the little brother got out... maybe I don't want to read it if he didn't

  3. I love books set in the WWII era. I am going to have to check these out. Thank you.

  4. I just watched this movie today.. Absolutely loved it. I am now planning to get the book.

  5. I picked up the copy of Sarah's Key I reserved at the library today. I'm finding Judi Dench's biography (With a Crack in her Voice) a little dry so it won't be a burden to put it down for a while Julie from Sydney, Australia