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brilliant and inspired
The Storyteller is the twenty-first novel by award-winning American author, Jodi Picoult. In this thought-provoking novel, Picoult follows her usual format of narration by different voices, but adds an allegorical story written by one of her characters. Reclusive baker, Sage Singer is a young woman scarred by her past and the guilt she carries. Josef Weber is a well-respected old man, a favourite teacher with a shocking secret and a unique request for Sage. Leo Stein is a lawyer with the Department of Justice who hunts war criminals. Minka Singer is Sage’s grandmother and a holocaust survivor. With this cast of characters, Picoult crafts a superb tale that will have the reader engrossed to the very last line. She brings her story to a breathtaking climax that leaves the reader wondering what they themselves might be capable of. Minka summarises it well when she says: “…..there is good and evil in all of us. A monster is just someone for whom the evil has tipped the balance.” As always, Picoult’s research is thorough, wide-ranging and apparent in every paragraph and includes holocaust survivors, concentration camps, mustard gas, baking, death marches, Jewish customs, Polish ghettoes, vampire myths, plant poisons, Nazi hunters, war crimes and gas chambers. Her portrayal of the creation of an SS officer is illuminating. Picoult always presents the reader with at least one dilemma and is an expert at sparking consideration of all sides of an issue. This novel will have the reader thinking about war crimes, vengeance, justice, deceit, repentance, what acts can (or cannot) be forgiven and who has the right to forgive. The most common dilemma with a Picoult novel, however, is this: read fast to know what happens next; or read slowly to prolong the enjoyment. While there is plenty of horror and heartbreak in this story, there is also incredible compassion and kindness, a bit of Haiku and some humour. The Storyteller provides undiluted reading pleasure. Picoult is brilliant and inspired, as always.