Sage is a young woman who befriends an elderly man in her grief support group, and he asks her to kill him as a kind of twisted form of justice for his previous crimes 60+ years before when he was an SS officer..........but that's not really what the book is about. Too bad, because that would have made a more interesting book about justice, forgiveness, sacrifice, self-loathing, and self-doubt.
Instead we get a retrospective story about how Sage's grandmother lived and survived though World War II and internment in Nazi concentration camps, in great part because of her unfinished and ongoing story that she'd written.....the story had captivated an SS officer who helped her survive Auschwitz because he kept wanting to know what happened next in her story. That forms the biggest chunk of the book, and it's mixed with that telling of the story that she (the grandmother) wrote - which bears an unfortunate resemblance to a teen vampire love story. 'I killed for him, isn't that a sign that we were meant to be together?' -- Ugh!
There's a definite undertone of Christian mythology in the book, in spite of the fact that Sage is an atheist and her grandmother was a Jew who survived the holocaust: Mary, Joseph, Adam, and Eve (well, it's actually Eva), all appear and bread is a central thread as the staff of life and livelihood, and the manifestation of the baker's emotions. Overall, I thought it was rather heavy handed in it's symbolism and language.
Addicted to Audible!
I have been a big fan of Jodi Picoult, despite the fact that in the past few years she seems to be sacrificing quality for quantity. In this book she has gotten her groove back on a horrific subject and handles it with amazing realism! The holocaust story was very well constructed and at some points literally had me in tears. The writing was Jodi at her best! The rest of the book was a disappointment. Perhaps she needed a more honest editor. First of all there were too many unnecessary storylines which just distracted from the important story. Second, her allegorical story/fable was unnecessary and did nothing for the book. Third, it seemed that she borrowed from, The Reader, in that a prisoner survives because of a story/reading. I also think the names she gave her characters are a bit silly-sisters named Sage, Saffron & Pepper - are you kidding me? The readers were all great except for the voice of Misha, I found her intonation annoying.
All in all, I enjoyed listening to this book and I would still recommend it even with the negatives that I have described.
I can find a book to love in any genre -- a beautifully written classic, an interesting mystery or sci-fi, a trashy romance. Bring it!
STORY - Audible has categorized this as a mystery/thriller/modern detective. I would call it historical fiction, though there are mystery and detective components. The main characters are richly developed, and each tells his own story. There is Josef, who is an old man haunted by the crimes he commited against Jews during the Holocaust. Sage is a young woman who works as a baker at night so she can hide her disfigured face from the world. Leo is a government attorney who finds and prosecutes war criminals. Minke, Sage's grandmother, was a prisoner at Auschwitz and is "The Storyteller." Minke writes a story about Anya and two vampire brothers, which captivates those who hear it.
The book jumps between these five stories, sometimes for hours at a time and sometimes just for minutes. They are easy to keep straight because they are each read by a different narrator. Minke's story about her life at Auschwitz is very long and details numerous atrocities, but it didn't bother me to listen to it. Josef seeks forgiveness for his crimes and surprisingly asks Sage to kill him, which causes Sage to meet Leo and investigate who Josef really was and what crimes he might have committed.
The book is deep and emotional, but I found it enjoyable and not gut-wrenching. Many of the characters are emotionally damaged. Some heal and some do not. The ending is very good, and I must say it came as a complete surprise to me.
PERFORMANCE - How can you go wrong with five different narrators? They all did great jobs.
OVERALL - I highly recommend this book to anyone, as long as you don't mind probing around in this dark period of our history.
Typical cat lady: lazy, sings off-key, craves spicy bloody marys.
How many novels, nonfiction accounts, documentaries and movies have I watched about the Holocaust? My mother even worked at the Simon Wiesenthal Center. I figure I've had my fill of understanding that hideous time in history and yet...I was compelled, once again, to listen to the grotesque details, to ponder the evil and fortitude of human beings and to wonder what I would have done if I'd been alive then.
And then when the heroes show up to rescue the prisoners, I felt that wonderful elation I always do, to be on the side of the good guys who sent Hitler and his minions running for their lives.
Evocative writing with fresh details and intimate performances all the way around. Learned new things and even had to look up Schutzhaftlagerführer in Wikipedia.
I would recommend this book. The narration was done by very talented individuals.
The ending was surprising and not expected. So many details of the story kept you hanging on.
Some authors try to capture an audience many adjectives and numerous descriptions that leave little for imagination; this often bores me. This author secured my attention with critical details and a provoking story. If you like to think while you listen and reflect consistently, this is the book for you.
Mila, Her voice was so genuine. It never sounded as if she was reading text but revealing accounts as if they just happened. If was captured by her tone, pauses and her pitch. I have listened to this book twice and I'm about to start the third time.
I have about 400 books in my audible library, and this ranks among the best!
All of it.
There are several narrators for all of the roles, and all were great.
I have read all of Jodi Picoult's books, and they are all great but this one is the best.
I hear voices. But maybe that's because there's always an Audible book in my ear.
Perhaps if this is your first book about the Holocaust, this might be the right book for you. For me, I've read too much about it and am so bothered by it that I nearly had to stop listening. I was expecting a different kind of book and with a different angle. Not so. There's an added dimension with the brothers but it all comes down to the same evil. I simply can't bear it. I wish I'd never listened to it.
I have LOVED most of Picoult's books (Nineteen Minutes, Sister's Keeper, Salem Falls are favorites) but Lone Wolf was a disappointment and I hoped it wasn't the dreaded Big Author Slide, but alas it appears to be the case.
Normally, it's fun to have all of the seemingly unrelated facets and characters of a story merge together but this was so disjointed and all over the place (that vampire/werewolf attempt was bizarre) that I found myself suddenly thinking Wait....Whaaat.?
The book seems a bit thrown together, the only part that seemed to be well researched and well written was the Holocaust portion with the remainder of the book as fluff and filler. Bummer.
I'm a big Picoult fan, but this book represents a significant departure from her usual character-driven, "moral dilemma" tale.
The book is well-written and reasonably well-narrated (I didn't care for the female reader's attempt at male dialogue, but it wasn't terrible), but I found the story to be lacking in Picoult's usual intensity.
The moral dilemma, while present, isn't a driving force. Much time is spent on a fantasy story told by one of the characters. The protagonist strikes me as too weak, unrealistically lacking in confidence.
On the bright side, the fictionalized retelling of one character's experience with Nazi occupation in WWII is excellent. Picoult covers not just the death camps, but also the long constriction of freedoms that led up to that extreme. Definitely my favorite aspect of that book.
That said, I listened to most of the story while on a long road trip. I'm now just 30 minutes from the end, and I can't say that I feel terribly compelled to finish. Nope, not even to hear the resolution of the moral dilemma. The history part is over and I've lost interest.
There is no Frigate like a Book To take us Lands away Nor any Coursers like a Page Of prancing Poetry – Emily Dickinson
This book had all the right elements for a great read: it was a good story that had many levels, the writing was good, there were lessons about history, as well as philosophical or ethical questions to ponder.
I loved the way there were 3 different stories going on at once. First there is the story of Sage and her struggle with how to interact with Joseph Weber and her meeting Leo. Then there is Minka’s story of the Upior, based on an old Polish fairy tale. This was interesting as a parallel and a metaphor for many of the actions and horrors that occurred in the book. The third and, to me, the most dramatic story was that of Minka herself and her path into and finally out of two different German concentration camps. The author very skillfully weaves these 3 story lines together in such a way that each story line adds to and helps to develop the other.
Spoiler alert here: I had trouble putting the book down! If I have any criticism, it’s with the ending. I’m not sure that the big switch in the character of Joseph Weber at the end was necessary or very well explained. Also, the idea that Sage pulls off her final act but seems to have no intention of sharing it or talking about it with Leo seems unrealistic. OR perhaps I’m unconvinced that she really could or would pull off this final decision. I feel like this final section was, perhaps, rushed or underdeveloped in relation to all that had come before. However, this didn't spoil my enjoyment of the book overall.
I highly recommend it.