Reading Guide Questions
Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
- What did you know about France's role in World War IIand the Vél d'Hiv
round-up in particularbefore reading Sarah's Key? How did this book
teach you about, or change your impression of, this important chapter in
- Sarah's Key is composed of two interweaving story lines: Sarah's, in the
past, and Julia's quest in the present day. Discuss the structure and
prose-style of each narrative. Did you enjoy the alternating stories and
time-frames? What are the strengths or drawbacks of this format?
- Per above: Which "voice" did you prefer: Sarah's or Julia's? Why? Is one
more or less authentic than the other? If you could meet either of the two
characters, which one would you choose?
- How does the apartment on la rue de Saintonge unite the past and present
actionand all the charactersin Sarah's Key? In what ways is the
apartment a character all its own in?
- What are the major themes of Sarah's Key?
- de Rosnay's novel is built around several "key" secrets which Julia will
unearth. Discuss the element of mystery in these pages. What types of
narrative devices did the author use to keep the keep the reader guessing?
- Were you surprised by what you learned about Sarah's history? Take a
moment to discuss your individual expectations in reading Sarah's Key.
You may wish to ask the group for a show of hands. Who was satisfied by the
end of the book? Who still wants to knowor readmore?
- How do you imagine what happens after the end of the novel? What do you
think Julia's life will be like now that she knows the truth about Sarah?
What truths do you think she'll learn about her self?
- Among modern Jews, there is a familiar mantra about the Holocaust; they
are taught, from a very young age, that they must "remember and never
forget" (as the inscription on the Rafle du Vél d'Hiv) Discuss the events of
Sarah's Key in this context. Who are the characters doing the
remembering? Who are the ones who choose to forget?
- What does it take for a novelist to bring a "real" historical event to
life? To what extent do you think de Rosnay took artistic liberties with
- Why do modern readers enjoy novels about the past? How and when can a
powerful piece of fiction be a history lesson in itself ?
- We are taught, as young readers, that every story has a "moral". Is
there a moral to Sarah's Key? What can we learn about our worldand
our selvesfrom Sarah's story?
Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of St. Martin's Griffin.
Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.