What is The Storyteller about? Is it about a baker? Is it about a scar? Is it about revenge? Is it about forgiveness? Is it about the Holocaust? Is is about a vampire? Yes.
Sage Singer is a baker who works the night shift, sifting and creating delicious concoctions, basking in her world alone. She bears a scar on her face that she tries to hide, much like herself, behind her hair, behind her mother death….
And then one day at a grief support group meeting, Sage means Josef an elderly man and they form an unlikely friendship. When Josef confesses to Sage a horrific past that involved the deaths of many people, he asks for her to do the unthinkable, to kill him, to make him pay for the crimes of his past.
As Sage is still reeling from this unthinkable request, she finds out that Josef and her lives may be closer than anyone could have imagined…. through her grandmother comes a story…. a story so painful that it has never been spoken of.
Just moments ago, I finished listening to The Storyteller on audio. By moments, I may mean minutes ago, or I may mean a little longer because as I finished listening to this powerfully engaging read I think I held my breath…and as I listened to those closing words and my mind rushed along the conclusion, I may have lost minutes to my thoughts…
wow. If you have read Jodi Piccoult before I can say this is Piccoult at perhaps her finest. It is her, and it isn’t her. This book is different. It is more… real. It is certainly more powerful and more painfully attentive to details than any other book I have read by her, and if you have read her before you know her books can pack a powerful punch (Nineteen Minutes comes to mind.)
The Storyteller is…. complicated. Sage is not an “I will take a bullet for you!” character, I liked her well enough… but doubt if we would ever be friends. I think a more compassionate, more likable Sage, may have given a different feel to this book – and I have to say, I think “a distant Sage” may be just what this book requires…. after all, we are dealing with topics, that are painfully real, but for more of us, a distance from our own lives today… I wonder if loving Sage as a character would have taken away from the real topics… the real protagonist, which in my opinion, is her grandmother, Minka. Minka makes up for what her granddaughter lacks, she is real, she is compassionate, and she has fire within her as a survivor.
All being said, I did find The Storyteller to be engaging and powerful. I have enjoyed Piccoult’s books in the past but this one with its historical fiction content speaks to me at a little deeper level than her previous books and I have a feeling I will be recommending this one to others for a long time to come.