In the past I have only read about four Jodi Picoult books before reading her newest novel, “The Storyteller.” I had a feel for the type of writing she did, but man did she change things up with this story. I felt she always had that courtroom vibe to her novels and this one doesn’t have that at all, it does talk about the law, but in a way that you could never imagine.
Sage Singer is a 25-year-old baker that lives a life of isolation and grief. She has a scar on her face that reminds her every day of the loss of her mom and makes her shy away from people and living a normal life in society. Things soon begin to change when Sage meets Josef Weber at her grief group. Josef starts stopping by the bakery, he and Sage strike up an unlikely friendship. They are soon confiding in each other about their lives and then one day Josef asks a favor of Sage, to help him die. Sage is so taken back by this request that she demands to know why Josef would ask this of her. Josef then reveals to Sage that he was an SS Officer at Auschwitz concentration camp. As horrible as this may seem to anyone it hits Sage so much more than she can imagine since her grandmother, Minka, was a survivor of Auschwitz. Sage is so disturbed by this news and doesn’t know what to do with it. Can she really kill a man that she has become to see as one of her only friends?
This is where the story takes off, at first I thought this book was going to be all about Sage, but a majority of it is her grandmother’s story. Minka’s story is what makes this book and Picoult did such a great job of writing it. What I appreciated so much about it was the fact that Picoult did not downplay or sugarcoat anything when it came to the details of the times back then. This was genocide, more than six million people died during this time. There is no way you could downplay something like that it’s just that most people don’t have the courage to write about those times, but Picoult held nothing back and I give her all the credit in the world for doing this.
This book is fiction, but I read that Picoult interviewed many survivors in order to get the information she needed and transferred their stories into the book. So the storyline may be fiction to us, but at one time it was someone’s life and that is what is so compelling about this novel.
I honestly don’t think I have ever been so emotionally impacted by a book. “The Storyteller” is so raw and honest and it shows you just how strong some people can be and how evil others are. I was so in awe of Minka’s character, she tells her story from when she was a young girl to a young woman. One of the quotes from the story that stuck with me is when Minka says, “If you've lived through it, you already know there are no words that will ever come close to describing it, and if you didn't - you will never understand.” I can’t even begin to image what those people went through, but this book gives you a better understanding of what happened.
I was so torn when it came to Josef’s character. At the beginning of the book we find out that Josef is known and loved by everyone in the town. He has become so involved with the people, from umpiring little league games to teaching German at the school. Then all of a sudden this bombshell is dropped on you that he was an SS Officer. Throughout the whole book I kept going back and forth on how I felt about him and now that I have finished it I still find myself completely torn.
Picoult did an amazing job of creating these characters; they are all so different but yet have one thing that ties them all together. Like I said earlier this is my favorite Picoult novel and I love her style of writing. She will keep you glued to the book and have you staying up late just to finish it and of course she always throws in that last huge twist right at the end that leaves you breathless.
I highly recommend this book! Everyone should read this, not only is it a great book, but it has so much history in it that I feel everyone should be aware of. This book will show you that the past will always be there, but it is up to you on how you handle it.
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