Books

THE STORYTELLER by Jodi Picoult, narrated by Mozhan Marno (Sage), Jennifer Ikeda (Anya), Edoardo Ballerini (Josef), Suzanne Toren (Minka), Fred Berman (Leo)

This has to be the first novel, or at least the first novel in a long time of Jodi Picoult’s that DIDN’T end in a courtroom! Which was refreshing.

As usual, Jodi Picoult tackles a difficult moral issue. What would YOU do if a 95-year-old man asked you to help him to die? Most of you would probably refuse, not least because you would probably be accused of murder (which could land you in prison) or for various moral, ethical or religious reasons.

But supposing this 95-year-old man, a pillar of the local community, told you that he was a former SS Officer at Auschwitz? And then, just suppose, that your much-beloved grandmother had been a survivor of the same concentration camp?

What would you do?

Sage Singer is a 25-year-old woman with scars, both visible and invisible. She works by night in a bakery so that no-one can see the scar that bisects her face, the result of a car accident which killed her mother. As Sage was driving the car when the accident happened, she feels a never-ending mixture of grief and guilt over this incident.

Wilhelmina (Minka) Singer is Sage’s grandmother, a woman now in her late 80s, who has never talked about her past. It is only recently that Sage has discovered that she is a survivor of Auschwitz.

So when Josef Weber, a charming gentlemanly man in the local grief counseling group befriends lonely Sage, and then subsequently asks her to – in effect – murder him, Sage reaches out to the DOJ to report that there is a Nazi in their midst (in a quiet village in New Hampshire.)

Enter Leo Stein, a Nazi Hunter & charismatic lawyer who works for the DOJ. He is determined to catch Josef Weber and make him pay for his crimes before it is too late.

But is Leo right? Should he capture a 95-year-old man in order to make his last years a misery (by forcing him to spend them in jail.) Or should Josef receive the forgiveness he asks for?

I thought this novel was magnificent. Yes, there are many stories that are woven together, but Ms. Picoult did such an expert job of keeping the narrative flow going, that I couldn’t put this book down. Five Stars.

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