Sunday, 6 December 2020

The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult Book Review!

Hi Readers! Finally got a bit of time this weekend to write this much awaited review! This was the first time I read one of Jodi Picoult’s books. Given that it was a war-time historical fiction made it even more interesting to read. I bought the hard cover version which had 446 pages, which made my interest pique even more! When I picked up the book, I read straight for 100 pages & once I was in that depth, I knew it would only get better & so it did! Check out the review below!



“Some stories live forever . . .

Sage Singer is a baker. She works through the night, preparing the day’s breads and pastries, trying to escape a reality of loneliness, bad memories, and the shadow of her mother’s death. When Josef Weber, an elderly man in Sage’s grief support group, begins stopping by the bakery, they strike up an unlikely friendship. Despite their differences, they see in each other the hidden scars that others can’t, and they become companions.

Everything changes on the day that Josef confesses a long-buried and shameful secret—one that nobody else in town would ever suspect—and asks Sage for an extraordinary favor. If she says yes, she faces not only moral repercussions, but potentially legal ones as well. With her own identity suddenly challenged, and the integrity of the closest friend she’s ever had clouded, Sage begins to question the assumptions and expectations she’s made about her life and her family. When does a moral choice become a moral imperative? And where does one draw the line between punishment and justice, forgiveness and mercy?

In this searingly honest novel, Jodi Picoult gracefully explores the lengths we will go in order to protect our families and to keep the past from dictating the future.”


The Book is divided into 3 Parts with the highlight in each part being a different person & their story. We have Sage Singer who is the protagonist of the novel. She is your underdog; the one who has major insecurities, who is shy to talk to people & who prefers being on her own. There is an incredible character growth in Sage which I enjoyed reading, especially because it is so subtle. All the while, we are reading stories of other people where Sage is not in the forefront & yet when we conclude the book, it is obvious how much her character has developed.

Part 1 focuses on Josef Weber & his story. The Josef Weber in the present is this kind old neighborly gentleman who teaches kids German. So, when he discloses the big secret that he was a Nazi SS soldier in WWII, it completely shifts the reader’s perspective of him. We hear his story from his childhood up until the period he served under Hitler & finally till the present. He is a man who I was unable to figure out, no matter how much I dissected his character. He had a closed mind, was selfish & had no emotions whatsoever in his early life. Despite this, his story of him as a Nazi was somehow incredibly humanized to make the reader feel uncomforted & it sure worked!

Part 2 focuses on Sage’s sweet old grandmother Minka & her story. We see Minka when she was a little girl, how she had a best friend & a boy she liked before everything went to shit & then how she survived the war. Minka’s story is a big one & also very moving. We see Minka suffer through it all with all her close people being taken away from her & yet she stays strong through it all. She is a woman with dauntless courage, insurmountable hope & positivity & a miraculous zest for life!


When you read such a complex story intertwined with philosophy, it is only natural that you are going to need a few days to process the book. I finished reading The Storyteller 2 weeks ago & I am still gathering all these infinite thoughts I had about the book.


As I mentioned above, the book is divided into 3 parts with different sub-stories in each which connects to the main story. In the first part, we get to know Sage & Josef. The chapters here were from point of views of multiple characters – Sage, Josef & Leo. This is why, this part was my favourite because there was a good balance between all the characters. The breaks from one person’s dialogues to other’s were essential & held my interest.

Part two was only & only Minka’s story. It was a pretty BIG MONOLOGUE, unlike the writing in part one. While Minka’s story had a lot of interesting curves, it was still a bit of a challenge to read it because after a point it became somewhat monotonous. If the writing here would even have been from point of views of Minka, Darija & people from her earlier life, it would have become easier to read. Also, even though Minka was a victim & Josef was a Nazi soldier, the writing was such that it made me empathize with Josef & find his story to be more sentimental.

Part three, to me, felt a little extended. There were details that could be edited, but overall it rounded the story very well in this part of the book.

In conclusion, I think it was a genius move on the author’s part to make the evil seem more human than the victim. Even in my head I was not able to accept this for a while, but now after reading the whole book, I can say so here.


In terms of predictability, there was always the one big question from the beginning – Will Sage help Josef die? And I knew she would. That aspect was quite predictable even with the twists toward the end. Apart from this, the only unpredictable factor is at the absolute end. Now, I am a thorough reader, which is why I spotted that ‘particular error’ while reading it first-hand. I have no idea how an FBI detective could have missed it in the story. The author probably did a good effort to end the story the way it did, and I enjoyed that twist. But, I already foresaw it, so it didn’t have a surprise factor for me.


Now, this was an aspect I wasn’t REALLY expecting. That’s why it made all the more sense to have it in the story. It was intriguing how Sage was trapped in dilemmas on whether to help Josef die or not. All the morals that came into it were described so well. The light & shadow game of words & thoughts between forgiveness & mercy was something I found was a classic touch to an otherwise amazingly written novel.


The Storyteller was an exceptional character-driven novel. From Sage Singer to Josef Weber to Minka to Leo to Mary to Ania! No matter how small a character was, they all had DEFINING ARCS, which made the story come out live in front of the reader!


Jodi Picoult’s The Storyteller is engaging, perspective-driven & character-driven with a beautiful playful game of words in the philosophical sense. I have rated The Storyteller at 4/5 stars on Goodreads!

Until next time,

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