Sage Singer is a young woman who has been damaged by her past. Her solitary night work as a baker allows her to hide from the world and focus her creative energies on the beautiful bread she bakes.
Yet she finds herself striking up an unlikely friendship. Josef Weber is a quiet, grandfatherly man, well respected in the community; everyone’s favourite retired teacher and Little League coach.
One day he asks Sage for a favour: to kill him. Shocked, Sage refuses.
Then Josef tells her that he deserves to die – and why.
What do you do when evil lives next door? Can someone who’s committed horrendous acts ever truly redeem themselves? Is forgiveness yours to offer if you aren’t the person who was wronged? And most of all – if Sage even considers his request – would it be murder, or justice?
Jodi Picoult is one of those master storytellers who really seems to polarise people. You either love her for her rich characters, her adept portrayal of the emotional scale and exposure of in-depth issues, or you hate her for her heartbreaking truths and her bittersweet endings.
I have my feet firmly planted on the love side of the fence and, for me, The Storyteller is no exception. This novel dives deep into the tragedies and tiny triumphs of World War II, focusing on the injustices the Jewish people were exposed to. At times, hearing Sage’s grandmother’s story is heartbreaking to the point of tears; she suffers and she suffers, and then when you think everything that can be taken from her has been–she suffers again.
This devastating tale is contrasted against the current day, where Sage must choose to forgive a murderer and help him die, or let him face the authorities and justice. Sage needs to stop hiding and face the truths of life–not just for Josef’s sake.
Piccoult’s writing is in fine form and you easily make the transition from past, to present day, to fairy tale as she tells the story from multiple points of view without ever falling from character. The emotional journey she takes you on is intense to the point of consuming and the ending captures a complete denouement.
Five stars. A fabulous, thought-provoking read.