A story about redemption and forgiveness by the #1 New York Times bestselling author Jodi Picoult. The Storyteller Jodi Picoult is about a baker who suffers with grief after her mother’s death and finds an unlikely friendship with someone else plagued by grief. Another must-read novel from the author that Huffman post described as an “amazingly talented writer” . So, check it out now!
Some stories live forever…
Sage Singer is a baker. She works through the night, preparing the day’s breads and pastries, trying to escape her loneliness, bad memories and her mother’s death. When Josef Weber begins to stop by the bakery, they strike up an unlikely friendship. They see in each other the hidden scars that others can’t.
The Storyteller Jodi Picoult: Detailed Description
The book is told from varying viewpoints, inter-spaced with vignettes of another story. In the vignettes we hear from a young adult named Amina, who lives in the past. She struggles to survive after her father dies and she takes on his bakery to be able to live. To make matters worse there is some kind of monster terrorising the village where she lives.
In the present we are introduced to Sage Summer. Sage is a young woman who tries to hide after she suffered facially disfiguring scars in an accident which we are initially not told the cause of. Sage’s parents both died within a few years of each other and she is estranged from her sisters. She works as a baker at night for a local bakery run by an ex-nun Mary. Sage likes the job because it enables her to avoid facing people and when she does she wears her long hair over her face to hide her scars.
We find that Sage is also having an affair with the local married mortician. Which she continues despite realising deep inside that it is wrong because she believes that she doesn’t deserve any better. Sage is a member of a grief group, a support group for people who are struggling to cope after losing someone in their lives.
An elderly man and his dog often come in into the cafe area of the bakery late in the day when Sage arrives for her shift. She recognises him from the grief group, he is a German man called Josef Weber. Sage finds herself striking up a conversation with the man. This is out of character for her as she usually avoids people. Despite the vast differences in the two, they strike up an unlikely friendship and begin to spend more time together. Sage visits Josef at his home. The two connect by talking, sharing their grief (Josef recently lost his wife of 51 years) and playing chess.
As the two draw closer Josef confides a terrible secret to Sage. He then asks for her help for him to find redemption and forgiveness. But Sage is appalled by the truth about Josef. And her first is reaction is that he deserves to be punished for his past.
After Josef admits to being a German officer in Autstvich, Sage finds it hard to correlate this gentle 95 year old man with the monster that he must once have been. Josef is seeking forgiveness for his past sins. The reason that he is seeking this from Sage is because although she herself is an self confessed Atheist, she is of Jewish descent. Therefore he believes that she can offer him the redemption that he seeks.
Sage is appalled by the truth about Josef and this is where Department of Justice agent Leo (who is Jewish himself) becomes involved. Leo’s job involves him being responsible for bringing people who have committed war crimes to justice. Together Leo and Sage seek to find the truth about Josef’s past but to do this they will need the help of Sage’s grandmother. Minka is a holocaust survivor that does not like to talk about the past and the horrors that she suffered.
Which brings us to by far the most important voice in the narrative which becomes Minka, Sage’s grandmother whose story proves to be the most important of them all.
Our review – ★★★★★
The Storyteller definitely confirms Jodi Picoult’s talent as a writer. Especially when it it comes to the difficult topics. In Part One of the story we are introduced to Sage. It is a little hard to feel much sympathy for Sage initially, she has clearly suffered a lot in her life but the way she views the wife and children of the married man she is having an affair with makes her come across as selfish and having little remorse for the people she is hurting. Another character who also garners little sympathy is Josef, even though like Sage finds, it is hard to believe that this gentle 95 year old man who shares his food with his dog and does so much work for the community is actually capable of the atrocities of his past.
It is in part two of this book that it really becomes engrossing. Minka opens up and tells Sage of everything she suffered as a young woman from Poland at the beginning and then throughout the rest of World War 2. The details and horrors of the concentration camps are starkly painted and everything that Minka went through is laid bare. It certainly isn’t an easy read but the writing is impeccable and everything seems horrifically believable. One of the main questions this book raises is are monsters born or raised. And are monsters capable of true remorse, and if redemption and forgiveness for the past really is possible when the past is so horrific.