Some stories live forever . . .
Sage Singer is a baker. She works through the night, preparing the day’s breads and pastries, trying to escape a reality of loneliness, bad memories, and the shadow of her mother’s death. When Josef Weber, an elderly man in Sage’s grief support group, begins stopping by the bakery, they strike up an unlikely friendship. Despite their differences, they see in each other the hidden scars that others can’t, and they become companions.
Everything changes on the day that Josef confesses a long-buried and shameful secret—one that nobody else in town would ever suspect—and asks Sage for an extraordinary favor. If she says yes, she faces not only moral repercussions, but potentially legal ones as well. With her own identity suddenly challenged, and the integrity of the closest friend she’s ever had clouded, Sage begins to question the assumptions and expectations she’s made about her life and her family. When does a moral choice become a moral imperative? And where does one draw the line between punishment and justice, forgiveness and mercy?
In this searingly honest novel, Jodi Picoult gracefully explores the lengths we will go in order to protect our families and to keep the past from dictating the future.
I first read The Storyteller two years ago, a few months after it was published. I bought it without even reading the story description first – that’s how much I love Jodi Picoult’s work. I’ve been a fan since the tenth grade, when I picked up a copy of The Pact from the school library at random. She’s let me down a few times, but she always manages to win me back with her poetic prose and signature style. This story is no exception.
Everything I love about a good Picoult novel is present here: the sheer amount of research involved, the complex characters, the moral conundrum, the twist in the end that leaves you reeling. Her powers of description are as present as ever; your mouth will water as she describes in detail the challah and sweet rolls Sage and Minka make together.
Unique to this story is her gift to relay how horrifying something is without being overly graphic. She manages to give an accurate portrayal of how the Jewish people were treated at the hands of the Third Reich without turning the stomach of this sensitive reader, describing atrocities I cannot even imagine with prose so aching and poignant it will take your breath away. And the twist at the end of this tale, in my opinion, is the most shocking and gratifying yet.
I recently revisited through the audio version, which I definitely recommend if you enjoy the medium. The book is performed by a cast of narrators, one for each of the major characters, and the finished product is truly a thing of beauty.