The Storyteller

by Jodi Picoult

Overview: Sage Singer is a baker. She works through the night, preparing the day’s breads and pastries, trying to escape a reality of loneliness, bad memories, and the shadow of her mother’s death. When Josef Weber, an elderly man in Sage’s grief support group, begins stopping by the bakery, they strike up an unlikely friendship. Despite their differences, they see in each other the hidden scars that others can’t.

Everything changes on the day that Josef confesses a long-buried and shame­ful secret and asks Sage for an extraordinary favor. If she says yes, she faces not only moral repercussions, but potentially legal ones as well. With the integrity of the closest friend she’s ever had clouded, Sage begins to question the assumptions and expectations she’s made about her life and her family. In this searingly honest novel, Jodi Picoult gracefully explores the lengths to which we will go in order to keep the past from dictating the future.

Debbie Weiss (07/09/16): Jodi Picoult used to be my favorite author. However, I have been disappointed in the last few books that I have read by her; they have become formulaic. The Storyteller is not formulaic, but there have been many great novels written about the Holocaust and this is not, by far, the best one I have read. However, the story that she presents does make you think about and consider the question of the good and evil that resides within one person. It also addresses the age old question of forgiveness.

I liked the main character, Sage, a young woman who has a talent for baking. She is still in pain over her mother's death. She is human in so many ways. Lots of serious issues and questions now confront her. Her decision in the end is not what I expected. The book is worth the read, though the Holocaust passages are graphic at times and difficult to navigate.
Rating: ****

Dale Israel (03/31/14): You always know what you're getting when you read a Jodi Picoult book and that's why I chose to bring her novel The Storyteller along on my recent trip to Europe. I agree with Judy that this was not Jodi's best book. In the beginning her writing seemed trite and flimsy. Once you get to the part where Sage's grandmother tells her story the book gets much better. I think I enjoyed this book a smidgen more than Judy and it certainly kept my mind off my claustrophobic tendencies while sitting for nine hours on the plane but that being said, The Storyteller was only okay...good, not great.
Rating: ****

Judy Stanton (04/15/13): I have read most of Jodi Picoult's book and was, frankly, surprised that she would do one about the Holocaust. She usually picks subjects that are controversial and in the news, not one that has been covered so well by others. She did, however, pick an interesting angle, based on Simon Wiesenthal's book The Sunflower, which raised the ethical question of forgiveness of the Nazis for their crime against humanity. She is a consummate storyteller, and weaves a story within a story, an allegory of the forces of good and evil existing in one person/monster. Her descriptions of the horrors of the Holocaust are difficult to read, especially those written from the German's perspective. As always, she puts some twists and turns at the end, so that the reader is never quite sure what will happen.

While I did find myself anxious to get back to the book and see what happened, and I thought it was a good read, the book was not among my favorites of either Picoult's books or books about the Holocaust. 3+
Rating: ***+

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