Author: Tatiana De Rosnay
Date of publication: 2007
2. I chose this book because I read the summary for it and it really interested me. The writing style is very unique as it switches from a story in the past of a young girl and her family who were taken during the Vélodrome d’Hiver roundup and of a modern day story of a journalist who is investigating this roundup. The two stories intertwine as the journalist comes across secrets which link her to the young girl from the past. This interested me as the book becomes a bit of a mystery and it leaves you in suspense. I also learned from the introduction of the book that the young girl hid her brother in a cupboard and locked it so that the French police would not take him too. She thought that she would be back shortly to release him, but to her surprise her family isn’t released immediately. This made me very interested to find out what happens to her brother and also what ends up happening to her family. I am also very interested in the Holocaust as a lot that happened is kept a secret. In history class we learned a lot about what happened in Germany and Russia, but we didn’t learn much about what happened in France. This also caught my attention when I was examining this book as it lets me learn a bit about what happened during the Holocaust in France.
3. So far I am really enjoying this book.What I have read has been really interesting. I enjoy the style of writing that Tatiana De Rosnay chose as it puts two different, but connected stories into one novel. It is not written in a way that makes it difficult to understand and it is very descriptive. This allows me to easily picture what is happening and makes the novel enjoyable to read. The different characters in this novel are also very unique, and the author does an excellent job showing their personalities right from the start. It makes it easy to relate each character to people that I know and even to myself. When you can relate to the characters in the novel it makes it very pleasurable to read. I often find that many novels start off very slow and you have to read a few chapters before anything interesting happens. This novel is different as it introduces the characters while exciting things are already happening. I find myself having a hard time putting the novel down.
4. I have read up to page 33 so far.
5. In the novel there are currently two different plots happening. The first takes place in Paris, France in July 1942. A ten year old girl named Sarah is taken with her parents and countless other Jews to Vélodrome d’Hiver. Before she leaves, Sarah hides her four year old brother in a secret cupboard and locks him in so the police don’t take him. She doesn’t realize where they are going and thinks that because they are being taken by French police, and not German, that they will return home shortly. To her despair, she learns that they aren’t going back home. They are trapped in an arena with thousands of others without food, water, or proper facilities. People are dying of hunger and dehydration, while others are committing suicide. The mood of this part of the story is very dark and sad because of these events.
The second plot also takes place in Paris, France, but this time it is in May of 2002. Julia Jarmond is an American journalist who has been living in France for twenty-five years. She is married to a French man named Bertrand and they have a daughter named Zoë. Bertrand’s grandmother has recently been moved into a nursing home so he is having her apartment redone so their family can live in it. Julia has just been given the assignment at work of writing an article on the events that happened during the Vélodrome d’Hiver roundup sixty years earlier. She starts her research and realizes the sad realities that occurred during that event in world war two. The mood of this part of the novel is much more upbeat than the other part. It focuses on the advances a family is making in their life – both to their apartment and to their careers.
6. There are a few different themes that seem to be forming in the novel so far. One is the theme of survival and escape. Sarah and the many others who have been taken from their homes are trying to survive without food or water, and are in fear of what is to come. Many tried to escape and fight the police to not be brought to the arena. Then there is Sarah’s brother who is trapped in the cupboard. He is also trying to survive in there with no food and a minimal amount of water. I think the author is trying to show how the people in that time did everything that they could to survive or escape the situation that they were in. Some ‘escaped’ by killing themselves in the arena, will others fought to stay alive. Tatiana De Rosnay is saying how valuable life is, and is showing what some people would have needed to do to stay alive during the Holocaust. She is also saying that survival and escape do not always go together. Many people died during the Vélodrome d’Hiver roundup. For these ones, the only escape they had from this torture was their eventual death.
Another theme that I see developing is that of racial or religious discrimination. Sarah and the other Jews are being tortured just because of their religious beliefs. In the story of Julia Jarmond, there is racial discrimination. She is often mocked by her husband and others because she is an American. Even though she has been living in France for twenty- five years, she is still set apart as different by many people. I think the author is really trying to show how unfair it is to treat others differently because of their race or religion. No one should be made to feel like they are less of a human just because they are different in some way. She effectively shows how ones feel when they are discriminated against.
7. I have found a couple different secondary sources.I have yet to find one that is a truly scholarly review. I find a lot of them use very advance vocabulary which makes them difficult to interpret. I do find it interesting hearing other peoples opinions on the novel, and it has help me to look at the book from many different view points.
8. “He had his favourite teddy bear clutched to him, he was not frightened anymore.” (3.8.5). This line really speaks to me because it is easy to relate to. When kids are young, they don’t realize the severity of things, and when something scary is happening, they are often comforted by a teddy bear. It made me think of when I was four years old, like the boy it is talking about in this line. If anything scared me, I would just need my favourite stuffed animal by my side and I would be okay. The teddy bear represents a lot of things. Often it is given to a child by their parents. Because of this, when the child has the bear it is like their parents are there with them. Or it is just like a friend to the child, so they no longer feel like they are alone. Either way, it represents security and it comforts the child. In this case, the child felt secure while his family was being taken away. For most kids, it protects them from the dark, or from the monster under their bed. This line gives a description of how most four year olds feel.