Read, Run, Repeat

A tale of fitness, books, food, and life in between

Book Review: The Storyteller

on July 1, 2013

On Monday, I spent the most of the morning finishing this book:

I’ve had this one in my stash for quite a while … you may remember from this post that this is the book that Jodi Picoult signed for me J I’d been holding off on reading it and letting the anticipation for the story rise!

The synopsis reads: “Sage Singer is a baker, a loner, until she befriends an old man who’s particularly beloved in her community. 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—and then he confesses his darkest secret – he deserves to die because he had been a Nazi SS guard. And Sage’s grandmother is a Holocaust survivor. How do you react to evil living next door? Can someone who’s committed truly heinous acts ever atone with subsequent good behavior? Should you offer forgiveness to someone if you aren’t the party who was wronged? And, if Sage even considers the request, is it revenge…or justice?”

When I went to hear Jodi Picoult, I heard a lot about this story came to be, especially in regards to the research that went into it (like all her stories), and how she weaved many holocaust survivor’s memories into the book… that in itself interested me – I’ve always found that part of history intriguing, although also very thoroughly taught in school curriculum.

My review? I’ll preface my thoughts by saying this: I enjoyed the book. It took me a little while longer than usual to get into it, but once I was immersed in the story, I was reluctant to put it down. As is typical of Jodi’s books, the story was told from many different perspectives – Sage, her grandmother, the Nazi guard, and a lawyer who formed cases for war crimes. I enjoy that Jodi writes this way and like that I can see many people’s perspectives.

However, to be honest – this book disappointed me.

I found that a huge chunk of the book took place through Sage’s grandmother’s, (Minka), eyes – she was a survivor of the Holocaust and therefore, the story was mostly about her during the Holocaust and her time spent in concentration camps. I felt like the character of Sage was never really developed, nor were her relationships with other people – her part of the story felt haphazard to me. Case in point: Sage has a scar on her face that she is extremely self-conscious about, and is part of what adds to her “loner” status – she doesn’t want to be seen by anyone. But the story behind this scar is thrown in during the last few chapters. I feel like it could have added more to the story, and I wish I felt like I had really gotten to “know” Sage better. Sometimes, the story just felt like yet another account of what happened to those of the Jewish faith and concentration camps during that time. I wanted more depth.

Even the “twist” at the end wasn’t all that surprising to me.

The title of the book came from a story that Minka wrote – it started before the Holocaust, and she continued to write while she was at the concentration camps – readers are led to believe that the story was one thing that saved Minka – and parts of the story are sprinkled throughout the novel, and are also used as a microcosm for what was happening with other characters.

I am used to Picoult books tearing at your heart strings while also making you really think about morality. This book was supposed to be centered on forgiveness versus revenge and justice. Those issues seemed to just get thrown in at the end. Usually, I start to really understand the “bad guys” in Jodi’s books – this time, I didn’t really connect with them at all. This may have been due to my background knowledge and the atrocities that were committed during the Holocaust – but still, usually, Jodi seems to be able to write about all perspectives. Perhaps she took on too many stories this time, or perhaps I just really built it up in my mind?

Overall, “The Storyteller” was a good story, and I did enjoy reading it – it was even a page turner! Sadly, I just didn’t find it as thought-provoking or significant as I would have liked – not up the caliber that I usually associate with Jodi Picoult’s work. It did prompt me to think about myself forgiveness – we’ll save the post for another day.

Favorite quotes:

Nobody, who looks at a shard of flint lying beneath a rock ledge, or who finds a splintered log by the side of the road would ever find magic in their solitude. But in the right circumstances, if you bring them together, you can start a fire that consumes the world.”
Jodi Picoult, The Storyteller

“Forgiving isn’t something you do for someone else. It’s something you do for yourself. It’s saying, ‘You’re not important enough to have a stranglehold on me.’ It’s saying, ‘You don’t get to trap me in the past. I am worthy of a future.”
Jodi Picoult, The Storyteller

Next up? This book:

This will be a totally switch up from what I usually read and I’m looking forward to it!! I also have “Happier at Home” which is by the same author! However, I may have gone a little book crazy on my latest trip to the library? (Who am I kidding – this always happens!)

Happy Reading 🙂

PS: tomorrow is my 4 mile race — called the Firecracker — I’m so nervous! Any advice for prepping for a longer distance in extreme heat (again) would be most appreciative!!

Questions: Best book you’ve ever read? favorite author? genre?


One response to “Book Review: The Storyteller

  1. […] – (I feel like that’s one of the things we read to death in MS/HS English) – Remember my run with “The Storyteller”? While I was reading, I actually got so wrapped up in reading the “past” story, that I […]

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