Book Review: The Storyteller – Jodi Picoult

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Imagine living a life where destroying others made you a good person.

Imagine living a life where the monsters you imagined suddenly became real. 

Imagine a revelation and story leaving you trying to make sense of the world

past and present.

This review was originally published in 2013, I was incredibly lucky that Jodi and her publishers became aware of it and posted it worldwide, I also got the opportunity to speak to Jodi and it was one of the best days of my life. So here is the piece of work that means the most to me.

Welcome to the world of The Storyteller, Jodi Picoult’s brand new and breathtaking novel. From the very beginning you are caught up in Picoult’s world, arguably more seamlessly than any other novel. Yet again she has created an entire novel from a simple moral question, someone who committed murder asks for your forgiveness, what would you do? Ok maybe it’s a little bit more complicated but this simple seed quickly branches out and has you deep in thought as you read. Sage Singer is a baker, she works at night alone as she cannot face the world seeing her scars, she later meets an elderly man who for the first time is someone she can talk to apart from her boss.  Imagine he tells you he needs your help, he wants you to help him die but before you do that you need to forgive him for helping to murder millions of people. Hooked yet? I certainly was.

A bit of context might help here. I waited for months and months for this novel to be released, imagine how excited I was when my boyfriend managed to get hold of a copy for me from the United States before it was released in the U.K. The novel combines some of my favourite things, Jodi Picoult novels, historical fiction, learning about the Holocaust and divided perspective, oh and a poke at Fifty Shades of Grey ( I did chuckle a lot at one simple joke). My own personal fascination with the Holocaust both the survivors and those lost started when I was looking at the period at the age of 11, I would trawl through accounts of the survivors both horrified and hooked at the same time. I think this is what makes The Storyteller even more fascinating, from picking up any of Picoult’s novel you will know that she does her research thoroughly but this is something else entirely. On the one hand you have the character of Minka who tells the story of a Holocaust survivor, an incredible tale. I had to remind myself that this was fictional, simply as the sheer amount of detail that has gone into Minka’s section was amazing if you were given this and not told it was written by an author you would genuinely believe it was a real survivor’s story. What is incredible also is how Picoult has woven Minka’s story ideas into the novel, at first I was a little thrown but they match the plot line perfectly and give really interesting ideas that I never would of thought of on my own and show the humanity in others as well.   To combat this however the reader is also given an equally shocking story beforehand, although this one made me sick to the stomach. SS officer Josef’s story was beyond belief, from the beginnings of Nazi Germany where young boys were pretty much brainwashed into being brutes (not that I think this is an excuse at all)  and then either went insane from their ‘duties’ or had to drink themselves stupid just to try and  forget  (see even you are feeling some mild sympathy, the brilliance of the author!), because at the end of the day no matter how monstrous and vile they were human…one point in time at least.

I cannot fault this novel in any way (as my readers will know if I don’t like something, I really don’t like something) and ending was incredible and so shocking not even a hardcore fan could work it out! The different perspectives are incredible too because it leave you having sympathy for characters you really feel you shouldn’t. I think that although Minka and Josef’s story will dominate the reader, Sage and another character (who I will not give away as I don’t want to ruin the surprise) present a modern perspective which is needed in this type of novel. The division Sage feels towards Josef as an old man and him in his youth tears the reader apart too, so does her turmoil over her grandmother, a Holocaust survivor. I cried though this novel, sometimes I had to put it down because it was so hard to process but within minutes it was back in my hands. Why do I like The Storyteller most of all though? Because even in one of the darkest parts of history and in the presence of the most revolting crimes against humans you still feel that there is light, that humanity still exists.

So to end, this novel made me want to live, it made me want to live for those who survived and those who didn’t.

***** five stars (although this doesn’t seem enough) released in the UK on the 26th March.

Chloe Metzger – a lifelong fan.

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