The Storyteller is comprised of several separate and distinct stories that interconnect. Sage is a young woman who has a disfiguring facial scar, and she is battling an inner torment that disfigures her far more than the scar on her face. Josef is a 94 year old, healthy, German man who no longer wants to live because he is tormented by his past and the things he did as a Nazi commander at Auschwitz. He asks Sage to help him end his life. Minka is Sage’s grandmother and she is many things including a survivor of the Holocaust as well as a creative writer. Within is included a story that Minka wrote about a young woman who falls in love with a vampire.
Jodi Picoult has written 20 novels, including My Sister’s Story. The Storyteller is both a drama and a historical novel. The story is told in a first person narrative from the point of view of the character whose story is being revealed.
I enjoyed the story and I liked how the past and present combined to slowly reveal the truth. I thought the characters were well developed and multidimensional. My favorite was Minka; I enjoyed reading her tale. I thought she was a strong and resourceful woman, and I found it fascinating how her fictional story about Ania and the Vampire saved her life. It provided both a sense of hope, as well as entertainment to the other prisoners, because it was a metaphor for love and redemption. The Storyteller may have been about the Holocaust, and parts of the story provided a heart-wrenching view into what it was like, but it was so much more than that. It was really about forgiveness, and not just for Josef, but for all of the characters and on many different levels.
I liked how the story unfolded, and I was surprised by the twist at the end. I recommend this book as a very good read, and if you enjoy reading about the Holocaust, both the horror of it as well as the triumph over it, then you will enjoy The Storyteller.
“Mary folds her arms. “I know I’ve told you how I left the convent, but did I ever tell you why I entered it?” she says. “My mother was raising three kids on her own, because my father walked out on us. I was the oldest, at thirteen. I was full of so much anger that sometimes I woke up in the middle of the night with the taste of it in my mouth, like tin. We couldn’t afford groceries. We had no television and the lights had been turned off. Our furniture had been reclaimed by the credit card company, and my brothers were wearing pants that hit above the ankle because we couldn’t afford to buy new school clothes. My father, though, he was on vacation with his girlfriend in France. So one day I went to see our priest and I asked what I could do to feel less angry. I was expecting him to say something like, Get a Job, or Write your feelings down on paper. Instead, he told me to forgive my dad. I stared at the priest, convinced he was nuts. ‘I can’t do that,’ I told him. ‘It would make what he did seem less awful.’
I study Mary’s profile as she speaks. “The priest said, ‘What he did was wrong. He doesn’t deserve your love. But he does deserve your forgiveness because otherwise he will grow like a weed in your heart until it’s choked and overrun. The only person who suffers, when you squirrel away all that hate, is you.’ I was thirteen, and I didn’t know very much about the world, but I knew that if there was that much wisdom in religion I wanted to be part of it.””
“She faces me. “I don’t know what this person did to you, and I am not sure I want to. But forgiving isn’t something you do for someone else. It’s something you do for yourself. It’s saying, You’re not important enough to have a stranglehold on me. It’s saying, You don’t get to trap me in the past. I am worthy of a future.””
This was my favorite quote because it sums up forgiveness and why it is important.