Editor’s note: This review was submitted by a library patron during the 2013 Adult Summer Reading program. We will continue to periodically share the best of these reviews throughout the year.
I was quite simply blown away by Jodi Picoult’s newest novel, “The Storyteller.” I’ve only read two or three of her books, so I don’t know how this one compares to others, but I was absolutely entranced by this story. It wasn’t instantaneous, but once it grabbed me, I felt as if I was in the world of “The Storyteller.”
As with most Picoult books, if not all, the story is told from a variety of different perspectives. So, a variety of sources tells the main story of Sage and her new 90+ year-old friend, Josef. Sage, with Jewish ancestry, meets Josef in a grief counseling group, and they strike up a friendship. Both seem damaged with pain from their past still affecting them, so they take comfort in one another. During the course of their friendship, Josef does something quite shocking. He informs Sage of his past as a Nazi officer in Auschwitz and then asks her if she will kill him.
What follows is a heartbreaking tale of the Holocaust and its costs to the world at large. A large portion of the novel follows Sage’s grandmother, who lived in Germany and was Jewish during World War II. She tells of her time in Auschwitz and how easily good people turned bad. Sage argues with Josef, herself and her own sense of right and wrong in deciding what she should do.
I think what sticks out in this story the most is the emotion behind the words and how much it touched me. As I was reading Sage’s grandmother’s words, I sat in my bed and literally cried at how her family was just violently torn apart and what she had to do to survive. I can’t wait to offer this to my book group as a possible read, because I know they will be just as moved as I was. In the end it asks the question, “What would you do in the face of such monstrosity?” A heartbreaking tale of family, life, love and the will to live, “The Storyteller” is going to stick with me for a long, long time.
Three words or phrases that describe this book: Holocaust, emotional, hidden identities
You might want to pick this book up if: You enjoy historical fiction, especially World War II drama.