Friday, September 13, 2013

The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult

Genre: Historical Fiction
Publication Date: 26th February 2013
Time: 18hrs 13mins
Book Source: Own audio
Narrator: multiple

Synopsis: 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'm a die-hard Jodi Picoult fan but her last few books have been hit and miss for me and the the endings have disappointed. Not so The Storyteller, I'm thrilled to say Jodi Picoult returns to form with this riveting story. Sadly we are not so far removed from the holocaust, history repeats itself with genocides today but we cannot hope to end these atrocities with ignorance ... these stories need to be told and read.   

Sage's friendship with Josef opens a can of worms when he confesses his horrifying past. Possibly not the most plausible situation but the ethical and moral quandary and the exploration of forgiveness made for fascinating and thought provoking reading. 

Sage's grandmother Minka is a holocaust survivor and her story is as emotionally harrowing and heartbreaking as I expected. What was unexpected was the narration by Suzanne Torin, this part of the story for me was the most compelling and moving, I really felt like I was bearing witness to the evil, Minka and her best friend Darija experienced at the hands of the SS. 

I enjoyed the light and contrast that Justice Department investigator Leo Stein's gallows humour brought to the story, it seemed in keeping with his profession, giving not only him, but also the reader, brief respite from the darkness.  

The dual time frame was seamlessly navigated but I'm not sure how I felt about the story within the story. I understood the allegorical slant to Minka's 'upior' from Polish legends however the conveyance felt a little jarring. 

This story lends itself well to the audio format, the multiple narration was brilliant with accents and inflections spot on. I recommend The Storyteller on audio without hesitation.

Connect with Jodi Picoult


  1. I have to try a book by her one day

  2. I read this last month and put it on my 10 Best Books of 2013 list. (list still subject to change by year's end). What I enjoyed most about it was that Picoult told two different stories here that converged at the end, but I actually enjoyed both equally. That is rare when this happens in a story. Usually I favor one plot direction more than the other. I recommend this, and am happy that you did too. I miss Ms. Picoult's energy in her earlier works; she seems lately to have been just picking Topic Du Jour and going with it. Thanks for sharing!

  3. At first, Minka's story felt like an interruption of the main event, for me; but then it captured me, and by the end, I was glad it was there. I loved this book, too, although it took me awhile to get "swept away." Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  4. I have been meaning to read this for ages as I have mostly enjoyed Picoult's writing and the premise for this one sounds very intriguing.

  5. I really enjoyed this one too. It was such a fun read!

  6. I agree that this is one of her better recent books. I am glad you enjoyed the audio format too. Sometimes that can make or break a book. I'm not sure if I could listen to this in audio. If a book is too emotional (like Eleanor & Park or Girl in Translation) then I sometimes cry while I'm reading and that could be bad behind the wheel!

  7. I'm glad this one is good. She's hit or miss with me but she always makes me think!


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