Behind the Green Gates

Feline doppelganger observes and comments on war, literature, sex, mankind, biology, Afghanistan,
tree-hugging, music, art, God and gods, America, books, politics and the return of the Florida anole.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Vel D'Hiv

This amazing book had just been recommended to me by an Amazon World Literature sale e-mail; I put it in my shopping cart but on the same day my mother-in-law loaned me a copy to read before passing it on to the other Esmerelda, my sister-in-law Down Under, Esmerelda-in-Residence (link @ bottom of page). Sarah's Key is an absolute page-turner. The narrator is searching for clues to a particular Jewish girl whose family was killed in the second French round-up up of the Jews in 1942, known as the Vel D'Hiv and commemorated by Pres Chirac in 1955. The little brother died alone hiding in a cupboard and she kept the key and the secret with her until she died. As most of it takes place in Paris, I'm already drawn in that I wish I owned an apartment in Paris or a cottage in Normandy. But the story itself is brought and slowly and painfully and beautifully to its end. It never made it out of my house to the poolside! My first Army duty station was Ludwigsgurg, Germany, in 1985. Being in a combat support hospital and thus more of a truck driver than the promised Operating Room Technician, I tended to find ways to hide and I can still see that same library section where I tried to understand what happened, how Jewish animosity was born, even delving into the Crucifixion. After developing a lifelong revulsion, anger and sympathy, I landed on an example I use in trying to evoke the same. Would you sacrifice your family for the Jewish family hiding in the attic? You don't know do you? Any more than you know what it would take to lash on a suicide belt to blow up a bus full of women and children. Pray you never have to learn.

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