Thursday, March 14, 2013

Review: "The Storyteller" by Jodi Picoult

From Goodreads:  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 Thoughts:  I finished this book several days ago and I am still thinking about it.  I thought I would never enjoy a Jodi Picoult book after reading My Sister's Keeper but this book really surprised me.  It is actually the best book I have read so far this year.

The story is so incredibly well-written.  The story flips between Sage and Josef in the present, Josef's time as an SS guard and Sage's grandmother's experiences in the Holocaust.  Sage's grandmother, Minka, is an amazing character.  Her story is the whole middle of the book; while Minka is telling her story there is no flipping to the present or another person's point of view, the sole focus is on her and the horrors she had to live through.  Ms. Picoult must have done an extensive amount of research because Minka's narrative felt so real.  It was so heartbreaking and yet so beautiful that you couldn't help but be touched by it.

Josef's story made me really question my feelings about this tough issue.  Normally, I would have no sympathy for a character like Josef but because we are introduced to him as this sweet little old man, it was really hard for me to reconcile my feelings about him.  I loved the old man version of Josef, but his younger self was so evil that I just didn't know how to feel about him. 

There was a huge twist at the end; I kind of started to guess what was coming but it was still a huge shocker.  It kind of changed how I thought about the entire story and Josef's character.  I was also really surprised by how the story ended, I have very mixed feelings about it but it worked.  I don't want to go into much detail about the end because it will give it away but it definitely left me with a lot to think about it.  I know this review has kind of been a lot of rambling but there is so much in my head and I am not doing a very good job of putting it down in writing.  Needless to say, this book was excellent, thought-provoking and a must read.  5 stars.


  1. Well as a girl living in Israel, a country built on the backs of the Holocaust survivors, I really don't know how I would feel about that. It was my people killed after all. Great review. I would like to read it- besides the question of what I would do/feel, I love Jodi Picoult. Thank you for this!

    1. That's what made it such a weird read for me. I loved the story but it had me questioning so many things I firmly believe in. There are still aspects of the story that I haven't been able to stop thinking about.

  2. I didn't realize that was what this was about. I definitely think it's an interesting take for a Jodi Picouly book, and now I'm far more curious about reading it!

  3. I'm really looking forward to this one (it's not out in the UK until the 26th). I always look forward to Picoult books and all the reviews I've seen of this one so far have been very positive.


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