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Customer Review

35 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Picoult has surpassed herself this time!, 8 May 2013
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This review is from: The Storyteller (Hardcover)
Jodi Picoult has surpassed herself with her latest offering. Easily my favourite book by her - and there's not one I don't like. You would be forgiven for thinking that there couldn't be many taboo subjects upon which Jodi hasn't touched - or more like delved into, dug up, emoted over and wrung out to dry - but then we get The Storyteller......

Sage is a loner, an orphan who is still mourning her mother and detached from her two older sisters, she works all night as a baker and sleeps all day, keeping apart from the real world as much as she can because of a scar that makes her feel different and unwanted. Her only regular points of contact are an ex nun who owns the bakery, her married lover Adam, her ageing grandma and her grief group; it is here she meets Josef, an elderly man who after befriending Sage asks her to help him die....

Josef's story is that he used to be an SS guard at Auschwitz and he wants to die for what he did there. Coincidentally Sage's grandmother was a prisoner at Auschwitz and when Sage sets off an FBI investigation into Josef's confession Sage finds that the history she herself has tried to hide from is brought to the fore and that she has a lot to face up to.

Sage's grandmother Minka, tells us the harrowing, heartbreaking story of her life during the war, before and after Auschwitz. This makes up most of the book and is brilliantly researched and so fabulously described that the reader can almost feel and see things that occurred. Interspersed with these stories is another story about a mythical creature which makes the background stories of Josef, Minka and Sage more poignant and lends understanding to the reader.

Prepare for a gut wrenching read that will whisk you back in time to one of the worst atrocities the world has seen; you will be under the skin of each individual in this book, the sentiments and emotions are so raw, whether good or bad. There are parts that will be reminiscent of your history lessons or TV programmes, which Jodi tells with such heartfelt poignancy that you will need tissues as you weep at the sheer wasteful pointlessness of the Holocaust. I've read many, many books from being a teen until now about various aspects of WW2 and the holocaust and this is easily one of the best and most moving. Once you pick up this book, do not expect to put it down until it is finished and do not expect it to leave you straight away - you'll need a day or two to get your head around it. Do expect Minka to be one of your favourite characters and to hold a little place in your heart.

As always with Jodi, there is a moral to this tale - namely that one should never take anyone at face value, always look beyond the surface; but there is a bigger moral dilemma here, one which cannot be satisfactorily answered - can Sage forgive Josef? Does she have that right? And who is really culpable when it comes to something like war crime? As well as tugging at your heart strings this book will make you think and question and think again.
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