Jodi Picoult’s latest offering The Storyteller has been widely acknowledged as her best work for some time. Booktopia’s Andrew Cattanach shares his thoughts.
Rarely do I read a copy of a new Jodi Picoult before my mother. In fact, never have I read a copy of a new Jodi Picoult before my mother. Her bookcase is drowning in books from the bestselling US author, and eagerly awaits news of every upcoming release. Usually I look at my feet awkwardly when listening to her recommendations, but when I heard the premise of The Storyteller I was intrigued.
Like all books by Picoult, The Storyteller explores controversial themes lingering amongst us, this time the holocaust and it’s subsequent war criminals. What happens when you connect with a gentle man, a man loved in the community, and realise he was a part of an atrocity and wants to atone for his sins. What do you do?
That’s the crux of the generation spanning The Storyteller. A conscience story that goes to the very heart of what justice is, and how do we atone for our mistakes, however grievous. When the guilty party calls to be punished for their crimes, will you act?
The book’s central character is Sage Singer. She’s an outsider who works happily at night in a bakery away from the world, burdened by terrible scars on her face from an accident years ago, something she’s struggling to cope with every day of her life. As a narrator, her fragility allows her to step back from the world and evaluate it through careful eyes.
Sage becomes friends with the elderly Josef Weber, a man loved by the community, while working at the bakery and they grow close. Then one day he asks her for a favour: to kill him. Startled, she says no, whereupon he confesses his true role in World War II….
I enjoyed The Storyteller much much more than I thought I would. It’s the first full Jodi Picoult book I’ve read and you know what, I can now see what my mother is on about. The mundane painting of everyday life is juxtaposed beautifully with the emotional intensity that exists between characters. It’s a book that makes you think, rather that simply thinking for itself.
It’s confidently written and while the message is plastered on at times, it leaves enough ground in between for you to explore your own beliefs. It’s skillfully done.
Oh, and one more thing. Sage’s grandmother is a Holocaust survivor. Do you see where this is going? Maybe you do, maybe you don’t…..
Grab a copy of The Storyteller today and find out.
Andrew Cattanach is a Feature Writer on the Booktopia Blog. You can read his ramblings on twitter here.