By: Jodi Picoult
Pub. Date: February 26, 2013
Publisher: Atria Books
Sage Singer befriends an old man who's particularly beloved in her community. Josef Weber is everyone's favorite retired teacher and Little League coach. They strike up a friendship at the bakery where Sage works. One day he asks Sage for a favor: to kill him. Shocked, Sage refuses…and then he confesses his darkest secret - he deserves to die, because he was a Nazi SS guard. Complicating the matter? Sage's grandmother is a Holocaust survivor.
What do you do when evil lives next door? Can someone who's committed a truly heinous act ever atone for it with subsequent good behavior? Should you offer forgiveness to someone if you aren't the party who was wronged? And most of all - if Sage even considers his request - is it murder, or justice?
At 25, Sage would rather work nights at the bakery, then out partying like other people her age. She feels guilty over her mothers death three years earlier, and has scars-both inside, and out, to prove it. When she meets 90 year old, Josef Weber, the two lonely people form a friendship. It isn't until Josef confides in her that he was once a Nazi soldier, that she begins to learn who the real Josef is. We learn how Josef the boy, became Josef, a cold-blooded Nazi soldier. The story was truly chilling. To read about his past, and see the gentle old man he became was really something that evoked many different emotions in me. We also get to read about Sage's grandmother, who was once an innocent girl in a concentration camp. If you think reading about Josef's story played with your emotions, reading Minka's story will be 100 times worse. You will feel hurt, anger, but eventually, you will feel hope.
Despite three different stories, Picoult adds one more. Leo is a Department of Justice employee who takes on Sage's case in finding out who Josef really is. At first I didn't really see the point in his POV, but he ended up bringing a lot to the story.
This story is about forgiveness. Should Josef be forgiven? That is what he ultimately wants. Should what he did over 60 years ago affect what happens to him today? Sage also needs to learn to forgive herself about what happened to her mom. She needs to realize that what happened to her could have happened to anyone and it was not her fault.
The Storyteller is a beautifully written story that will leave you with a million emotions. There is a plot twist at the very end that I saw coming, but it still left me completely shocked. If you find yourself at the bookstore, in the Jodi Picoult section, not knowing which story to read first, go with The Storyteller. You will be thinking about it for days to after.