The Storyteller

The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult -480 pages
Book Blurb:
Sage Singer befriends an old man who's particularly beloved in her community. Josef Weber is everyone's favorite retired teacher and Little League coach. They strike up a friendship at the bakery where Sage works. One day he asks Sage for a favor: to kill him. Shocked, Sage refuses…and then he confesses his darkest secret - he deserves to die, because he was a Nazi SS guard. Complicating the matter? Sage's grandmother is a Holocaust survivor.
What do you do when evil lives next door? Can someone who's committed a truly heinous act ever atone for it with subsequent good behavior? Should you offer forgiveness to someone if you aren't the party who was wronged? And most of all - if Sage even considers his request - is it murder, or justice?
My Review: 4.5 stars
I’m shocked. I gave up on Jodi Picoult after so many of her books became far too much of a formula for me to continue reading. This one literally came to me as a surprise. My son, the new driver in the house, picked it up for me at the library and left it in my bed as a surprise. I got all comfy that snowy afternoon, saw a book under the covers and assumed it was the one I was in the middle of, but to my surprise, it was The Storyteller. The perfect combo of lazy and cozy led me to crack it open and I’m so happy I did. Not moving from my bed, I became entirely engrossed in this story about Sage, who although I found annoyingly self-effacing, was still swept up into her life and most importantly, into her history. This book is not for the faint of heart, as the memories from her grandmother Minka of the Holocaust were quite vividly described. Minka’s section was on the long side but I felt it worked as it mirrored the length of the war.
The story of the Upior peppered throughout the book ends up having a huge meaning in the story and acted as a character on its own. I liked that a lot. The sisters I felt were unnecessary to the story and their names, more spices, were terribly cliche. This book offers discussions of all types to forgiveness, guilt, support groups, affairs, religion, atheism, survivors, love and baking.
This story reads quickly and will hopefully, as it did for me, remind us to tell our stories to those we love, share our pasts and don’t let this type of history repeat itself. Be your own storyteller.
SPOILER:  Warning, only continue reading this if you’ve read the book! Hurray! This book did not follow the author’s past formulaic style of writing where most all of her books end up in a courtroom after struggling with a moral dilemma. However, did any of you find the bones of this book similar to My Sister’s Keeper, also by Jodi Picoult? Every chapter was a different character’s voice and then the end had that twist that no one saw coming. I guess that is why this book lost .5 of a star from me. Not because the bones matched another book, but because the twist seemed unrealistic that in all the places in the world, let alone the U.S., that this guy could go to, he ended up in small town New Hampshire. Maybe then, as readers, we’re supposed to believe that he planned it and was stalking Minka? Who knows? Thoughts?
Quotes I liked:
- “...sometimes words are not big enough to contain all the feelings you are trying to pour into them.”
-“History isn't about dates and places and wars. It's about the people who fill the spaces between them.”
-“The weapons an author has at her disposal are flawed. There are words that feel shapeless and overused. Love, for example. I could write the word love a thousand times and it would mean a thousand different things to different readers.”
-“Nobody, who looks at a shard of flint lying beneath a rock ledge, or who finds a splintered log by the side of the road would ever find magic in their solitude. But in the right circumstances, if you bring them together, you can start a fire that consumes the world.”
-“It doesn’t matter who forgives you, if you're the one who can't forget.”
-“The only person who suffers, when you squirrel alway all that hate, is you.”
Tags: 2013, Fiction, Historical Fiction, WW2, Holocaust, Judaic, Vampires, Food

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