“The Storyteller” is a psychological fiction novel written by The New York Times best-selling author, Jodi Picoult. The story follows Sage Singer, a baker who works alone in a bakery on the night shift to avoid people in the day. An unlikely friendship forms between Sage and a 95-year-old man named Josef Weber, who reveals he was once a Nazi SS guard at a concentration camp. When Josef requests Sage for a favor, she must make tough decisions to comply or refuse. During this ordeal, she uncovers the truth of her own family history and the importance of forgiving.
The novel is told through four different points of view: Sage, Josef, Sage’s grandmother, Minka, and Leo, a Nazi investigator. The setting shifts from the point of view of the characters with the majority of it taking place in New Hampshire but with flashbacks to Auschwitz.
The novel is also split into two parts.
Part I revolves around Sage and her developing friendship with Josef. He recounts his time working in the concentration camp and how he became the man he is now.
Part II, the larger portion of the novel, revolves around Minka’s experience in the concentration camps. The reader follows her journey from before being put into a ghetto to the camps she manages to escape from. At the end of Minka’s point of view, the reader is transported back to present day and learns if Sage fulfilled Josef’s request.
The overriding theme of “The Storyteller” is the concept of moral choices. It explores the choices that people have when it comes to moral issues and how those choices are made or justified. In Sage’s case, she is faced with a moral dilemma when asked a favor by Josef. At first it seems easy, but the choice becomes more complicated when she learns what Josef claims to have done and how it relates to her grandmother.
In all, “The Storyteller” is interesting and helps to enhance the reader’s interest in the Holocaust. The story contains many plot twists and surprises that keep the reader on the edge of their seat. There is not one point of view that is not compelling, and every storyline ties in well with the main storyline. It also does not lose the reader’s focus or main concept while including other characters’ points of view. For those who like romance novels, this book also contains a small amount of romance between two of the main characters.
“The Storyteller” is a very detailed and vivid story that enhances the horrors of the Holocaust and focuses on the tough choice the main character must make to benefit her and possibly, her grandmother and the Jewish community.