In Sarah's Key, the book begins before dawn one morning, as a man in a beige raincoat and a policeman knock loudly on Sarah's family's apartment door and shout their name, demanding they open up.
The raincoat-wearing man questions Sarah's mother, who says her husband is not there. The man tells her to pack as they must leave.
Sarah is confused but goes off to pack and help her brother, who was asleep. He is frightened and hides in a secret cupboard in the bedroom. Sarah locks him in, takes the key, and rejoins her mother and the men in the front room.
The man in the raincoat is holding a list in his hand (chapter 5). It has the names of the people he is rounding up. The list says a young boy also lives in the apartment. Sarah's mother tells him that her son has gone to stay with friends. The men look around but cannot find the cupboard door.