More than just a story….
Title: The Storyteller
Author: Jodi Picoult
An astonishing novel about redemption and forgiveness from number-one bestselling author Jodi Picoult.
Sage Singer is a young woman who has been damaged by her past. Her solitary night work as a baker allows her to hide from the world and focus her creative energies on the beautiful bread she bakes.
Yet she finds herself striking up an unlikely friendship. Josef Weber is a quiet, grandfatherly man, well respected in the community; everyone’s favourite retired teacher and Little League coach.
One day he asks Sage for a favour: to kill him. Shocked, Sage refuses.
Then Josef tells her that he deserves to die – and why.
What do you do when evil lives next door? Can someone who’s committed horrendous acts ever truly redeem themselves? Is forgiveness yours to offer if you aren’t the person who was wronged? And most of all – if Sage even considers his request – would it be murder, or justice?
In the Storyteller, by Jodi Picoult, I find myself blown away, as usual, by her ability to a craft a story so believable it is as though she lived it herself. In this novel, Picoult is the ringleader as she presents to her reader five separate storytellers and it is through these intertwined narratives that we discover the pain, brutality and horror of the Nazi’s invasion of Poland. This is a beautifully sad story that illustrates how such horrific events from our past can cast ripples that having a lasting effect on the present. I personally had family that escaped from Nazi invaded Europe and it is to their bravery that I owe my existence. I am sure many readers of this book are able to relate on the same level. While the subject matter is very serious, there is a joy that comes from reading a novel like this which speaks to the reason that books are so important, while they are an escape from reality, they also frame our reality and capture within them a social snapshot containing both the facts and emotions pertaining to certain times in history. Jodi Picoult demonstrates in this novel that she is a truly exemplary story teller herself and there are quite a few moments that the author’s feelings of the writing process shine through.
I can only imagine that the writing of this work would have been a huge undertaking as I found the book to contain examinations of religion, belief, forgiveness and indeed even one’s own faith and forgiveness of themselves called to question. The questions I found myself asking by the end of the book caused this story to stick with me for days after completion trying to justify how I felt toward both the victims and villains in the story. Picoult was very effective in the way she takes the reader through main character, Sage’s inner turmoil around her feelings towards Josef/Reiner whose character played directly into the story told by Sage’s Auschwitz surviving Grandmother, Minka. Sage’s ultimate ability to forgive and satisfy an old man’s request leaves the reader with the impression that however great one’s anger and frustration may be, ultimately freedom only exists for those who can forgive.
I would definitely recommend this book. Not only does it educate the reader on the Nazi regime and what it may have been like for those who had to suffer through it, this story also teaches lessons about the value of survival, opportunity, friendship, family, and even loss. I personally took a lot away from this book and its messages will stay with me for some time to come.
Check out my other Jodie Picoult review on Plain Truth.