Review first published on my blog: http://memoriesfrombooks.blogspot.com/2013/03/the-storyteller.html
The Storyteller is a story of the Holocaust told from many different perspectives. Minka is the survivor. Sage is her granddaughter who feels removed from the history until she learns the reality of how it affected those she loves. Leo is one who studies the history and searches to bring the perpetrators to justice. Josef is.....Well, who Josef is becomes the crux of this story.
I have read several Jodi Picoult books. Unequivocally, the books all tackle difficult issues, and all of them have made me think and have elicited a strong emotional response. This book confronts the issue of forgiveness - our ability to forgive others and to forgive ourselves and what forgiveness does for the giver and the receiver. It tackles it on an enormous scale - the horror of the Holocaust, but at the same time, on a very personal level - forgiveness at an individual level.
The story is an emotional and powerful one from each perspective. Interestingly, the least developed is the story of Sage, who begins as the main character. She is dealing with guilt and forgiveness in her own life; yet that by the end seems tangential and extraneous to the main story. Leo's story is the pragmatic one of bringing people to justice, of ensuring that legal boundaries are met. Minka's story along with Josef's is, by its very nature, the most intense and the most emotional. Mingled with Minka's story is a tale she writes - one that to some extent mirrors the world around her but at the same time is able to take her away from the horrors she faces.
I have to say that I did guess the ending - the twist that so often comes in Jodi Picoult stories. In this case, seeing it coming added to powerful message of forgiveness that the book is all about.
On her website, Jodi Picoult states, "If we have a moral responsibility to the past, it's to make sure that history like this doesn't repeat. ... That's why I wrote this book. Because stories matter, and there are six million people who did not have the opportunity to tell theirs." A powerful book to read and to be left thinking about for a long while.