Here are a few questions that occurred to me during the reading of Sarah’s Key. Maybe they’ll generate some additional questions and discussion at our meeting this Thursday.

  1. If every author has a moral or message to convey, what would you identify as the primary message(s) of the Sarah’s Key?
  2. Do you believe the situation described in Sarah’s Key could ever occur in the United States? To your knowledge, has anything similar happened in the U.S.?
  3. Why are the French called Frogs?
  4. Why do you think the author “scheduled” Julie to have her “operation” on the anniversary of Vel’ d’Hiv? What’s the message, if there is one? Are there parallels between the events of July 16, 1942 and July 16, 2002 in Julia’s life? Did the text describing Julia on that morning strike you with its double meaning? “I could only lie there in my paper dress and paper hat, and wait. Wait to be wheeled into the operating room. Wait to be put to sleep.”
  5. What was Sarah’s key and did it have a meaning other than the physical key?
  6. Throughout the book, Julia discovers small plaques about Rafle du Vel’ d’Hiv, but the French citizens seem largely unaware of the story. How familiar were you with the “Roundup” in Paris, before reading Sarah’s Key? How familiar are you with memorials and historical plaques in your geographical area?
  7. By the end of the book, what happened to Sarah? Did you anticipate that ending? How did you react? If you were in “Sarah’s shoes,” do you think you would have chosen the same path?
  8. Were you happy with the ending of the book? Or was it contrived or anticipated?
  9. Is the retelling of the story of Sarah’s Key necessary? Important? Or has the story been told so many times, it’s meaning is lost?
  10. Do you see any problem with the Tezacs moving into the apartment vacated by Sarah’s family? Knowing what happened 60+ years earlier, would you live in the remodeled apartment? Did Edouard owe Sarah’s descendants anything?
  11. Genevieve Dufaure wrote, “This is no longer the France I knew when I was a little girl. This is another France that I don’t recognize. I am old now, and I know my days are numbered. But Sarah, Gaspard, and Nicholas are still young. They will have to live in this new France. I pity them, and I fear what lies ahead.” Do you find yourself ever echoing those sentiments about the United States? Does every generation lament the changes they see over a lifetime?

I’m looking forward to seeing you all at 7 PM on January 12, 2012 at the Leawood Pioneer Library, Leawood, Kansas to discuss Sarah’s Key.