Most of this story kept my interest, with some parts dragging on a bit. It's a Holocaust tale with a twist. The main character at first seems to be Sage, a scarred and sad young women still grieving over the death of her mother. She befriends an old man (Josef), who tells her that he was an SS officer in Nazi Germany, and he want forgiveness and help in killing himself. I was drawn into these characters and their stories over the first third of the novel. Sage contacts the FBI. The second third of the novel is mostly told through the voices of Minke and Anna. Minke is Sage's grandmother and a Holocaust survivor. Minke's tale seems pretty generic, if you have read a lot about the Holocaust, which I have. Eventually, Minke's story did draw me in, but Anna's never did. It really dragged on. The final third of the novel connected all these different characters and stories, and picked up again. The ending of the novel seemed much too far fetched to me, and I did not believe Sage would act the way she did. I think it was just Judy Picoult trying to be clever and surprise the reader. She did surprise me but lost me in the process. I give this three stars because I was engaged by about 70% of this novel.
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.
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 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.
Jodi Picoult IS indeed THE Storyteller of our time. All her books grab you at the start, envelope you in intriguing plots and then trash the rest of your life until the inevitable ending, which you put off by reading the last chapter, very, very slowly.
Being a lapsed Jew myself, who has assiduously avoided all things Holocaust (as my Sunday and Hebrew schools filled me to a lifetime capacity of the atrocities,) I've got to admit, Picoult, skillfully brought that dark period of time to life in a way I'd never read before. Admittedly interminable at times, her tale flew by due to the empathy she illicits by drawing such complex, fallible, intelligent characters. The examination of forgiveness was quite fascinating as well. Her dialogue just gets better and better with each novel. Not sure how she manages to elicit a chuckle in the same paragraph that grips your gut.
Since Picoult is such a studious researcher, with each book I learn so much and am of course amply entertained by her excellent dose of low self-esteem female, estranged to men, finding love with the policeman, detective, lawyer or loner. Love the way she weaves in a well crafted mystery, amidst the squabbling siblings and small town eccentrics.
It's interesting to me that another favorite author, Alice Hoffman, also just re-examined the Jewish culture she shed in her youth in a very fine, albeit somber re-telling of the Masada massacre in 70 CE. (hmm…. in The Storyteller the main character, Sage, finds on the bedstead in the apartment of the ex-Nazi "an Alice Hoffman novel.")
Why, in reexamining ones religious roots, would one goes to horrendous genocides instead of looking at the religion itself? Remember, I'm a Jew as well, but still don't see the point of going over and over how we over-came being victims in the past. Where are the novels examining what the Israeli Jews are doing to the Palestinians, and why?
OK, done being a kvetch. Do read The Story Teller because it is indeed an excellent listen and damn fine historical novel as well. (And then answer my question, please?)
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 only cared to listen to this once. Depressing holocaust story with the expected cruelty and evil. Even the baker grand-daughter's story that is entwined with her grandmother's death bed story is lonely and sad.
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.
I read Picoult's website, carefully examining her reason for why she wrote this story, but I don't get it. If she thinks she has added to the body of knowledge of the Holocaust, she is sadly mistaken.
This story has a novel twist in it, but only one. It brings nothing new to the table regarding the Holocaust survivors. In fact, I just finished reading a few months ago the memoirs of women survivors in A Train in Winter before starting the Storyteller. In so many ways Storyteller repeats the exact same story. Picoult brings no new ways of understanding personal dynamics in the camps, no new ways of understanding survivors or their offspring. I'm to going to accuse her plagiarism, but scene for scene in the march out of the camp to the next camp, I could have been in the other book. Yes, I realize she used a lot of research but she should have read the body of literature out there already to be original.
I read A Train in Winter for book club; Storyteller for my own entertainment because I liked My Sister's Keeper. Picoult's Storyteller is one dimensional. For a nuanced look at suffering in WWII and a book which brings a new perspective to the table, try The Book Thief, or go see the movie.