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March 21, 2016

The Storyteller

The StorytellerThe Storyteller

By Jodi Picoult

Jodi Picoult is one of those authors everyone seems to love, but when you mention The Storyteller you get mixed reviews.  For me, this is Picoult’s best novel.  Maybe it’s the characters and backdrop of WWII that fascinate me, maybe I just like that the main character is a baker…whatever my reasoning I was hooked from page 1.

Similar to Picoult’s other novels, this is not an overly upbeat story.  The Storyteller involves the Holocaust and deception, but there’s also complex characters and a sense of hope that carry the story to its conclusion.   The novel is told through the eyes of several characters, both modern day and during the war.

Sage Singer is our modern day lead.  Sage is a baker grieving the loss of her mother and coming to terms with scars she carries inside and out.  She’s turned her back on her Jewish faith and seeks comfort in the repetitive nature of baking.  Her routine is forever changed when she meets an elderly man named Josef Weber.  Josef is the mild-mannered retired school teacher the town adores and Sage quickly befriends.  One day he reveals a shocking secret…he was a Nazi officer in Auschwitz.

This revelation strikes very close to home for Sage, whose own grandmother, Minka, is an Auschwitz survivor.  Sage reaches out to Leo, a Nazi hunter employed by the US government for advice and even a little retribution.  Leo encourages her to ask Minka about her time Auschwitz in the hopes of piecing together evidence of Josef’s previous life and potential crimes.  This turn of events leads the reader to the real Storyteller, Minka.  She shares stories about her youth and coming of age in the horrors of WWII Poland.  Through Minka’s stories and family history, Sage learns more about herself and starts to feel whole.

Each chapter is told through the eyes of Minka, Sage, Josef and Leo.  It’s suspenseful and gripping with a twist at the end.  The Storyteller touches on the importance of hope, family and finding peace in any situation.  This isn’t a light read, but it’s worth the emotional roller coaster ride.

Looking for more?  Check out these read-a-likes – The Zone of Interest by Martin Amis, The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian, and Not Me by Michael Lavigne.

Review By: Kirsten Edwards