Monday, 31 August 2015

Book Review | The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult

What do you do when evil lives next door? Can someone who's committed a truly heinous act ever atone for it with subsequent good behavior? Should you offer forgiveness to someone if you aren't the party who was wronged? And most of all - if Sage even considers his request - is it murder, or justice?

Sage Singer befriends an old man who's particularly beloved in her community. Josef Weber is everyone's favorite retired teacher and Little League coach. They strike up a friendship at the bakery where Sage works. One day he asks Sage for a favor: to kill him. Shocked, Sage refusesand then he confesses his darkest secret - he deserves to die, because he was a Nazi SS guard. Complicating the matter? Sage's grandmother is a Holocaust survivor.

Pages: 528 | Format: Paperback

The Storyteller is an interesting book. I picked it up, because it was recommended to me by my sister, and I do love books set around the Second World War. To begin with this book is a slow starter. There's a lot of build up to Sage, who she is, and what's going on in her life. Which, for me, was just a little slow and I couldn't really get into any of it. When Josef comes in, things pick up, especially when you get a little look at his life during the war. For me, though, the story didn't start getting great, until you reached Minka's narrative. The chapters filled with her story during the war, were amazing. They were emotional, and well thought out, and written in such a way that I couldn't put the book down. Whenever it reached a chapter set in the modern day again, I was longing to skip ahead and get back to Minka's story.
This, is partially where the book loses some of its appeal for me, it felt so unbalanced between the amazing war time chapters, and the slow modern chapters that ultimately, I didn't want to read half as much as the other sections.
As I was reading this book, I just kept thinking, give me Minka's story, give me more of Josef's story during the war, and give me the story of his brother Franz. There were things about Franz's life that I wanted to explore and understand. Those three narratives together, would have made an absolutely amazing novel. However, for me personally, I just didn't really like any of the modern day chapters.
The other thing which I wasn't keen on, was the ending. For me it felt like a disappointing completion to the story. 
Overall, the war time chapters were flawless, and alone would have received full marks, however the modern day chapters and the ending, didn't work for me, which was disappointing, considering the other parts of the book were so amazing.


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