The Storyteller - Jodi Picoult

Title: The Storyteller
Author: Jodi Picoult
Published: 2013
Pages: 460
First Line: My father trusted me with the details of his death.

Fiction is like that, once it is released into the world: contagious, persistent. Like the contents of Pandora's box, a story that's freely given can't be contained anymore. It becomes infection, spreading from the person who created it to the person who listens, and passes it on.

It's been awhile since I read any Jodi Picoult novels, a realisation that surprised me as I never fail to enjoy them. 'Enjoy', however, is a word that I find so hard to use in reference to this particular novel.

Following her trademark move of picking hot button issue around which to revolve her story (capital punishment, organ donation, religion), The Storyteller introduces the character of Jozeb Weber, a more-than-model citizen in his nineties who, after befriending Sage, young local baker, confesses to being a Nazi soldier during World War II. What's more, he is asking Sage, the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor, to forgive him before helping him die. No small ask.

The Storyteller is a layered, multi-generational story, weaving in the narrative voices of Jozef, Sage, her grandmother Minka, and Leo, the DOJ attorney from whom Sage is seeking counsel. The reader experiences the atrocities of WWII and life (and death) at Auschwitz, not only through the eyes of Minka, a then nineteen year old girl, but also through the eyes of the Jozef, a high ranking the Nazi officer at Auschwitz. These overlapping stories are, in turn, heart wrenching and sickening, tear inducing and angering. And through it all you cannot help but feel for Sage and the role she must play in drawing out these stories and finding herself in a position to pass judgement.

I make no claims to be a WWII historian, nor do I descend from family on either side of the war. I say this because I am aware that books dealing with narrative voices from the holocaust often provoke strong reactions in those with real life connections to events. I read this from a point of view of interest and as such, found the book to be a compelling and emotional read. There were points in the book that I had to put it down and walk away because it had upset me so.

I would have to say this this is one of Picoult's best works. While I find all of her novels moving, The Storyteller, undoubtedly because of the subject matter, carried a weight that I was not expecting when I started it.  5/5

Read if you enjoyed:

  • The Book Thief - Markus Zusak

Other Reviews Have you written a review for this book? I would love to include it, comment below and I'll add your link!

Books Read in 2014

Total books read: 53

  • C, Chloé - Go Get a Roomie, Vol. 1
  • Clark, Brian - Whose Life is it Anyway?
  • Cohn, Rachel and David Levithan - Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List
  • Corsetto, Danielle - Girls With Slingshots, Vol. 1
  • Corsetto, Danielle - Girls With Slingshots, Vol. 2
  • Corsetto, Danielle - Girls With Slingshots, Vol. 3
  • Corsetto, Danielle - Girls With Slingshots, Vol. 4
  • Corsetto, Danielle - Girls With Slingshots, Vol. 5
  • Corsetto, Danielle - Girls With Slingshots, Vol. 6
  • Corsetto, Danielle - Girls With Slingshots, Vol. 7
  • Danforth, Emily M. - The Miseducation of Cameron Post
  • Davies, Valentine - Miracle on 34th Street
  • Fitzgerald, F. Scott - The Great Gatsby
  • Flynn, Gillian - Gone Girl
  • Gere, Denise - Cupcakes: For Every Occasion
  • Gray, Eva - Tomorrow Girls #1: Behind the Gates
  • Grillo, Gabrielle and Lucy Sweet - WTF Knits
  • Harris, Neil Patrick - Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Adventure
  • Keil, Melissa - Life in Outer Space
  • Kibuishi, Kazu - Amulet Vol. 1: The Stonekeeper
  • Koyczan, Shane - To This Day: For the Bullied and the Beautiful
  • Kuhlmann, Torben - Lindbergh: The Tales of a Flying Mouse
  • Lepard, Dan - The Great Australian Bake Off
  • Lowry, Lois - The Giver
  • Maguire, Gregory - Wicked
  • McCoster, Kim - One Pot One Bowl: Rediscover the Wonders of Simple Home Cooked Meals
  • North, Ryan - Adventure Time, Vol. 1
  • Ozma, Alice - The Reading Promise: My Father and the Books We Shared
  • Pearl-McPhee, Stephanie - All Wound Up: The Yarn Harlot Writes for a Spin
  • Pearl-McPhee, Stephanie - At Knit's End: Meditations for Women Who Knit Too Much
  • Pearl-McPhee, Stephanie - Free-Range Knitter: The Yarn Harlot Knits Again
  • Pearl-McPhee, Stephanie - Things I Learned From Knitting (Whether I Wanted To or Not)
  • Peters, Julie Ann - Luna
  • Picoult, Jodi - The Storyteller
  • Riordan, Rick - Percy Jackson and The Last Olympian
  • Riordan, Rick - Percy Jackson and the Sword of Hades
  • Roth, Veronica - Divergent #1: Divergent
  • Roth, Veronica - Divergent #2: Insurgent
  • Roth, Veronica - Divergent #3: Allegiant
  • Rowell, Rainbow - Attachments
  • Rowell, Rainbow - Eleanor and Park [read twice]
  • Rowell, Rainbow - Fangirl
  • Rowell, Rainbow - Landline
  • Straczynski, J. Michael - Superman: Earth One
  • Stillman, William and Jay Scarfone - The Wizard of Oz: The Official 75th Anniversary Companion
  • Tan, Shaun - Rules of Summer
  • Tan, Shaun - The Lost Thing
  • Tan, Shaun - The Red Tree

Books read in 2013

Total books read: 36

  • Butcher, Jim - The Dresden Files #5 - Death Masks
  • Butcher, Jim - The Dresden Files #6 -  Blood Rites
  • Butcher, Jim - The Dresden Files #7 - Dead Beat
  • Butcher, Jim - The Dresden Files #8 - Proven Guilty
  • Butcher, Jim - The Dresden Files #9 - White Night
  • Card, Orson Scott - Ender's Game
  • Dahl, Roald - Esio Trot
  • Fine, Anne - Blood Family
  • Flagg, Fannie - Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe
  • French, Jackie - Dark Wind Blowing
  • French, Jackie - Hitler's Daughter
  • Gleeson, Libby - Red
  • Gray, Nigel - Oliver Twist Finds a Home
  • Hicks, Faith Erin - The Adventures of Superhero Girl
  • Hornby, Nick - The Polysyllabic Spree
  • Howard, Josh - Dead@17, Vol. 1
  • Howard, Josh - Dead@17, Vol 2: Blood of Saints
  • Howard, Josh - Dead@17, Vol. 3: Revolution
  • Gaiman, Neil - American Gods
  • Gaiman, Neil - Fortunately, the Milk
  • Gaiman, Neil - Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders
  • Gownley, Jimmy - Amelia Rules, Vol. 2: What Makes You Happy
  • Kuipers, Alice - Life on the Refrigerator Door
  • Lake, Selina - Homespun Style
  • Martin, George R.R. - A Song of Fire and Ice #2 - A Clash of Kings
  • Martell, Nevin - Looking for Calvin and Hobbes: The Unconventional Story of Bill Waterson and His Revolutionary Comic Strip
  • Melancon, Isabelle - Namesake, Vol. 1
  • North, Ryan - Machine of Death: A Collection of Stories About People Who Know How They Will Die
  • Palacio, R.J. - Wonder
  • Riordan, Rick - Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief
  • Riordan, Rick - Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters
  • Riordan, Rick - Percy Jackson and the Titan's Curse
  • Riordan, Rick - Percy Jackson and the Battle for the Labyrinth
  • Spence, Jon - Becoming Jane Austen
  • Tamaki, Mariko - Skim
  • Thompson, Jill - The Little Endless Storybook

Divergent - Veronica Roth

Title: Divergent; Insurgent; Allegiant
Author: Veronica Roth
Published: 2012 / 2012 / 2013
Pages: 487 / 525 / 526

Since I read these books in such quick succession, one after the other, I'm going to cheat a little and review the trilogy as a whole inside of individual books. This was another series that I read on the insistence of students (it is so lovely to have kids so excited about books that they want to discuss the with you so try to read those books as soon as I can).

These books are rather popular at present, so no doubt you've heard of them or seen them (or the new movie) about, but just in case you haven't, here's the run down. The series takes place in a not-to-distant future Chicago. In this world, communities are few and rather closed in. When children reach the age of sixteen they undergo a testing procedure which determines their dominant traits and attributes and indicates which of five 'factions' they would be best suited.

Unlike a lot of other dystopian fiction that employs this trope, however, the choice is ultimately theirs, children can choose which faction, and which trait they which to guide their life - Abnegation (self-sacrifice), Erudite (knowledge), Candor (truth),  Amity (friendship), or Dauntless (daring). Children can choose to align their life with their families, or with what their testing indicates.

For those like Tris, however, testing reveals a shocking secret - she is Divergent. Equally skilled or suited to more than one faction. This way, history has shown, leads to great upheaval and chaos, not only within the individual them self, but for society as a whole. And so people like Tris are feared. And hunted out.

In choosing Dauntless, Tris takes a bold step away from her family and into a new life, but all is not entirely what it seems - and not just at the Dauntless compound, everywhere.

I enjoyed the first two books in this series - not as much as, say, The Hunger Games, but I would definitely recommend it to any fans as a similar read. The last book, however, I found disjointed and off putting as Roth employed an alternating chapter perspective change between Tris and, another main character, Four. This had not occurred in the first two books and I would often get a ways into the chapter before I realised it had shifted.

As an example of YA dystopian fiction it checks all the boxes - a young lead character with a skill above her peers, a love interest with a complication, separation from the parents, and a corrupt government. Through in some crumbling buildings and a cool zip line manned by some under-20s and you're all set to go. Not a bad read, by any stretch, just not anything out of the ordinary. 3/5

Read if you enjoyed:

Other Reviews Have you written a review for this book? I would love to include it, comment below and I'll add your link!