Do you ever read a book and lose track of time because you’re so engrossed in the story and invested in the characters? You don’t care that it’s one in the morning and your eyes are burning, that you have to be up in five hours, because you can read until the next section break. And then the next.
I’m sure you have, as almost every reader has had a book that you just couldn’t put down; but have you ever had to stop reading and get up out of bed to take a hot shower because you were so overwhelmed with emotion and needed a break before you continued any further? That is how intense – and amazing – Jodi Picoult’s novel The Storyteller is.
Sage Singer is a baker. Even though she sought out the trade because it enabled her to distance herself from the world after an accident leaves her scarred physically and emotionally, baking is both a solace and an art for Sage. While attending grief group, she befriends an elderly man who asks her the unthinkable – he wants her to help him die. He asks her because her family is Jewish, and confesses to her that he had been an officer in the SS. While struggling with the concepts of good and evil, Sage becomes closer to her grandmother who is a survivor of the Holocaust. Truly a young woman torn between anger and forgiveness, Sage Singer’s life collides with the stories of others that will forever change her own.
The emotions that the stories in this novel evoke and the utter importance of the history and moral struggles the characters must contend with make The Storyteller a powerful work that simply must be read. Picoult’s way of staging the novel, perfect descriptions, and characterizations of each narrator are an excellent example for writers. The endless parallels are a dream for analytical minds. The story is presented in such a personal way that those who are fascinated with history, particularly World War II, will find that it not only feels accurate, but is a devastatingly intimate conveyance of human history.
This book has left me emotionally drained in the way only a great novel can, and I can’t recommend it enough. But after the devastating experience of finishing this novel, Picoult includes in the back of the book the recipe for Minka’s roll, which lifted my heart. I will definitely be making an attempt at baking it, because crying while eating homemade bread seems like the best way to celebrate this work.