Sunday, June 15, 2014

Book Review: The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult

My neighbor handed me a copy of Jodi Picoult's The Storyteller and said, "I think you'll really enjoy this." Was she ever right! There is a reason that Picoult is considered one of the finest writers of our time and she is at her best in this book, full of history and complex moral issues.

Sage Singer is a Jew by birth, athiest by choice. She works as a bread baker for Mary, an ex-nun who opened a bakery at a local shrine. Disfigured by a tragic accident in which she also lost her mother, Sage is buried under pain and grief, and seeks love in the arms of a married mortician. She also frequents a support group for those who are grieving. There she meets Josef Weber, a well-respected elderly man who taught German at the local high school for many years.

She and Josef become friends, but then he makes an unexpected revelation and request. He is a former Nazi officer and would like Sage to a) forgive him on behalf of the Jewish people, and b) kill him. The majority of the book shares his story as well as the story of Sage's grandmother who was in the concentration camps as Sage tries to decide what she is going to do.

The historical research that Picoult must have done to write this book is mindblowing. The stories are full of such detail and horror and are a vivid reminder of why we must remember the Holocaust. But more than that, the moral issues raised and the character development will leave you wondering, "What would I do?" The paperback version that I read includes a book club discussion guide. This would be an incredible book for any book club to read.

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