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The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult

The Storyteller

by Jodi Picoult

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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2,2731344,232 (4.09)55
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    BookshelfMonstrosity: These thought-provoking novels examine the atrocious activities and difficult decisions made during the Holocaust, the legacy of World War II, and the links between identity and humanity.
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    The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes (Iudita)

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» See also 55 mentions

English (132)  Dutch (2)  All languages (134)
Showing 1-5 of 132 (next | show all)
Unlike other Picoult books, I was under no impression that things could turn out well here. Also unlike other Picoult books, I thought that things turned out exactly as they should have. Very good book. ( )
  kweber319 | May 13, 2019 |
Sage Singer uses the scars on her face to hide from the world. She works as a baker during nighttime hours, and is almost crippled by the shadow of her mother’s death. Her Jewish grandmother was in Auschwitz and is a survivor of the Holocaust. An elderly man from her grief support group who befriended Sage has just confessed to being a member of the Nazi SS who served at Auschwitz, and asked Sage to help him die. Powerfully told, this story explores several perspectives. Very well done. ( )
  DebbieMcCauley | Apr 28, 2019 |
WOW! This book is such an emotional roller coaster! I had to put this one down for days at a time because I would get so mad I could not continue reading but I would also get so heartbroken that I was in tears at other points in the story. The moral dilemma sage is faced with was so engrossing. I really did not know what she was going to decide to do until the end. I have read several books by this author she is known for writing stories that ask the hard questions filled with moral dilemma but this by far her best work in my opinion. Highly recommend! ( )
  Thelmajean | Mar 28, 2019 |
The StoryTeller is a Goodreads Choice Nominee for fiction 2013, and deservedly so. It is told through the differing point of views of Sage, Minka, and Leo. At the beginning of the novel we meet Sage Singer, a girl who hides herself away working nights in a bakery. She is badly scarred from a car accident, and prefers the solitude of baking bread to engaging with people. Alone in the world after the death of both her father and her mother, she speaks only to the other workers in the bakery and the grief group attendees. At the grief group she meets Josef. A man well into his nineties, who appears to be a sweet old man, well-respected by the local community. He too is alone in the world, his wife has died and all he has left is the unconditional love of his dog. This unlikely pair of grieving souls form a strange friendship, drawn together by the deep scars in their lives, Sage's visible, Josef's hidden. Josef's scars have been inflicted on others. Deep wounds, that he carries within his soul, and seeks release from.

The shocking twist in the tale comes with Josef's revelation. He is not at all what he appears to be. In fact nobody would believe that this pillar of the community was an SS Officer during the Second World War, who worked in the notorious concentration camp Auschwitz. To make matters worse Sage's grandmother is Jewish, and was also at Auschwitz. Sage has not been an active member in the Jewish faith, and works alongside an ex nun. Josef reveals that he wants Sage to help him die. Sage struggles with her conscience and decides that the right course of action is to contact Leo Stain, a Nazi criminal war hunter.

At the core of the StoryTeller is the concept of guilt. Both Sage, and Josef are guilty. Josef's guilt is on a massive scale, so therefore cannot ever be forgiven. Sage feels a sense of guilt,and this guilt is caused by events that may or may not have caused the death of her mother. Her guilt drives her away from the remaining members of her family. Both Sage and Josef hide,driven out of sight by their remorse.It is interesting that Jodi Picoult elects thatJosef, the heinous war criminal, is the one to hide away by adopting a new persona. Moreover he gets away with it for many years. It is evident that his actions as a war criminal are still engrained in his psyche, he knows how to survive.Whereas Sage, still bound and scarred by her own sense of guilt, chooses to distance herself from people. She is the one who disappears out of sight, who is invisible. Yet her guilt is miniscule in proportion to Josef's terrible actions as an SS officer.

Part two of the novel relates Sage's grandmother Minka's story. I found this part of the story, a shocking progression from Minka's happy childhood memories, to the ghettos, and then to the starvation, deprivation, and sheer terror, of the concentration camps. Jodi Picoult has obviously extensively researched this period of history, and creates a moving and absorbing tale in Minka's story. It works so well. She manages to create believable characters whose pain and suffering become so understandable, and poignant. I did find myself wiping a tear away, whilst reading the second part of the novel, so you've been warned!

As if this is not enough, Jodi Picoult adds into this mix yet another story of a creature, the Upior, who tears humans apart. This story is Minka's tale. The story within the story does much to illustrate the horror of what man does to his fellow humans, behaving like a beast.

I also found layers of meaning in the references to baking in the novel. The simple things in life like a freshly baked piece of bread or patisserie, made by a loving parent, can be taken away from you in seconds and replaced by unimaginable horrors.

There are many threads and points of view interwoven into the plot. So this is a novel that works best for close rather than light reading! Can a Nazi war criminal change? Obviously whatever he has done now to make amends cannot wipe out the terrors of the atrocities that he must have committed. Leo, is the one that keeps this point of view firmly in place, even though at times we see Sage struggling with the same dilemma.

The conclusion of the story focuses on Sage, and her ongoing process of delivering Josef to the authorities. In this part of the book, we learn that Sage struggles with Josef's confession, and questions of morality are debated via her character. There are major spoilers at the end of the book, so I will not spoil your reading of it by even hinting at them. Just suffice it to say, this is a very thought-provoking book, that I would highly recommend to Jodi Picoult fans, and to readers of historical fiction, it's a must.

( )
  marjorie.mallon | Mar 27, 2019 |
Emotionally draining, yet powerful story. This was a very human, personal account of the Holocaust, survival, and forgiveness. I highly recommend this book.

Reread 3/25/19 - 3/26/19 This story is wonderfully written. Sage Singer is a troubled 25 year old who is scarred from a bad accident. She is mourning the death of her mother, and is distanced from her 2 older sisters. She escapes her troubles by having an affair with Adam, a married man (funeral director from her mother's funeral) and baking on the night shift at the town bakery. She meets Josef Weber, a kind, elderly man who is in her grief therapy group. Josef asks her for a favor that will change everything. Sage's grandmother, Minka, is a holocaust survivor, and tells Sage about the horrors of the time in the camps.
Redemption, forgiveness, survival are all in this wonderful book.
#TheStoryteller #JodiPicoult ( )
  rmarcin | Jan 22, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 132 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jodi Picoultprimary authorall editionscalculated
Ardon, AyalCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lee, Jeanne M.Cover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For my mother, Jane Picoult, because you taught me there is nothing more important than family. And because after twenty years, its your turn again.
First words
My father trusted me with the details of his death.
There are all sorts of losses people suffer—from the small to the large. You can lose your car keys, your glasses, your virginity. You can lose your head, you can lose your heart, you can lose your mind. You can relinquish your home to move into assisted living, or have a child move overseas, or see a spouse vanish into dementia. Loss is more than just death, and grief is the gray shape-shifter of emotion.
That's the paradox of loss: How can something that's gone weigh us down so much?
But my mother also would have been the first to tell me that good people are good people; religion has nothing to do with it.
I cannot justify why I've picked Josef, a virtual stranger, to reveal myself to. Maybe because loneliness is a mirror, and recognizes itself.
And me: I find myself talking about things that I have long packed up, like a spinster's hope chest.
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Book description
Sage Singer, a baker is asked by Josef Weber to make a moral choice. It will make her draw the line between punishment and justice, forgiveness and mercy.
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Sage Singer becomes friends with an old man who's particularly beloved in her community after they strike up a conversation at the bakery where she works. Josef Weber is everyone's favorite retired teacher and Little League coach. One day he asks Sage for a favor: to kill him. Shocked, Sage refuses, but then he tells her he deserves to die. Once he reveals his secret, Sage wonders if he's right. What do you do when evil lives next door? Can someone who's committed a truly heinous act ever redeem themselves with 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?… (more)

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