The booktalk that I filmed is still being resistant in uploading so I thought I would write a booktalk on the book The Storyteller by Jodi Piccoult. I’ll split the booktalk into a non-spoiler section and a spoiler section. Okay non-spoiler section first.
This book was so amazing it’s hard to put my feelings for it into words. The Storyteller was set in modern times but was about World War II in the 1940’s. It followed to story of Sage, a twenty something girl who befriended a man named Josef. But Josef has a dark secret that he’s trying to hide and he asks Sage to commit the most deadly of all the sins. He wants her to kill him. Sage will go on a journey to uncover the truth about the War and her morality will be severely tested. She looks to her family to seek the answers she desperately craves and finds herself faced with cruel taunting’s of the past. What Sage finds will not only test herself, but everyone around her.
I urge everyone to read this book. It will give you such a better understanding of WWII and what went down in the concentration camps especially the one in Auschwitz. It will make you think of things in a much more critical way and make you see the world isn’t black and white but a variety of different greys. The Storyteller was a truly incredible book and was engaging right to the end.
The beginning of this book was quite confusing. It starts with a story that Minka (Sage’s grandmother) wrote but then goes into Sage’s story. I was stumped as to how the two tied together and it wasn’t until about a third of the way through the book that we find out that it was Minka’s story. Sage interested me from the very beginning and I love that through the book we got to slowly piece together her life and how she acquired the scar she views as a setback from life. The way Sage talked about baking and why she baked and how she baked drew me into the story even more. A lot of people thought it was just useless droning that took away from the main plot, but I thought it was an essential edition to the novel to give the audience a better understanding of who Sage is. I didn’t like that she was having an affair with a married man simply because she thought she didn’t deserve anyone else and no one would ever want her. She had insecurities that a lot of people have but having an affair because of them was a little strange. I didn’t trust Adam and I thought he was just taking advantage of Sage. He made her feel like she was beautiful and that was good but he also made her feel like he was the only one that could ever love her. I didn’t like or trust him. I was really happy when she met Leo.
Leo was a really nice person who honestly did love Sage. He was kind to her and was really passionate about the job that he was doing. I do think he saw everything a little too black and white but his view on the world was so beautiful. When he took her to the Jewish Synagogue he looked on with such love and wonder in his eyes and I just fell in love with him even more.
When we first met Josef I honestly thought he was good. When it was revealed that he was an SS soldier for the Nazi party I was really surprised. He seemed so sweet and loving but he wasn’t and that made me really like about how many seemingly sweet people there are out there that have deep secrets. I felt like I was right there with Sage at that moment. Feeling the hurt and disgust she was feeling. I was in such a rage for what he’d done especially since his actions had affected Minka.
Minka was one of my favourite characters in this novel. She was an incredibly strong women who deserved a lot better than she got. Her chapter was so emotional that I just could not even. I was right there with her through her journey in the Ghetto and then the concentration camp, being hauled around to do slave labour and being abused just for simply being a Jew.
Part 1 of the story was probably the slowest part. It was still really amazing though. It started with the obligatory introduction to the story and the characters and then went into Sage learning about Josef. When she learnt about him I honestly thought she was going to do nothing because the man she had met and was good friends with can’t possibly still be that monster who committed so many disgusting crimes during the war. She did though, which was good, and I loved the introduction of Leo. Getting to see the Nazi party from a lot of different perspectives was really refreshing and I enjoyed being able to float to other peoples perspective. Josef’s chapters were really intense and learning about how he had grown up I started to see that a lot of Nazi officers actually grew up being fed these lies and being forced to have the same view as the Adolf Hitler. What he did still shocked and disgusted me and I don’t think I could ever forgive a man who did what he did.
The story eventually circled around to part 2: Minka’s perspective. Her story was the most heart wrenching piece I have ever read. It moved me and made me feel the loss that Minka was feeling. In the beginning of her part she explained about her life before the war and it was from there that I fell in love with the characters; particularly Darija and Minka’s father. When she was moved into the Ghetto I still had some hope for her seeing as she was with her family and Darija was there and the conditions were as terrible as the concentration camps. When her mother was taken to a camp I cried with her and I felt her pain seep into me. Her brother in law was taken to jail soon after (or was it before) and that didn’t effect me too much. He was still gone forever but we didn’t really learn much about his character so it wasn’t that devastating.
When Darija was taken I cried. I cried for Minka’s loss, for the loss of one of the few people she actually cares about. When the head of the camp announced the deportation of all children under ten years of age to be gas I was outraged. How dare he send children to be murdered! How dare he rip children away from their parents and force them to die! How dare he sacrifice someone else’s life to save his own skin. I felt confidant though that Minka’s sister would come up with a plan. And she did. I truly thought it had worked but then she looked down at her baby and noticed his face was blue. She had accidentally smothered her child and I knew from that moment that she was fated to die as well. And she did. She spread her arms like the wings of an eagle and welcomed the warm embrace of death that would take her to the land where her baby was. Where she would be happy and feel no more pain.
I was sure after that heart-wrenching death that there could be no more. But there was. Minka and her father were summoned to be taken to the Auschwitz concentration camp. I felt like her making love to that boy was a little odd but was a necessary addition to the plot to make you see that she was fitting in every experience she could before her impending death. She knew where she was going and she knew her fate.
When they arrived at the concentration camp I was really upset that her father was sent to the left. To the gas chambers. To the place where people don’t come back. Minka was sent to the right though and that made me feel a little better, especially considering Darija was in the camp with her! That made me feel really happy. The scenes in the camp were described in such detail that I felt like I was there. I could smell the burning flesh from the crematoria, feel the hunger from days without food, see the terror in the eyes of those around me and feel the pain of losing everything. Every one.
When Minka moved jobs to attending to Franz I was worried. I didn’t trust him and was still a little wary even when he proved he was good. Then he made her read him the story and I was even more cautious of him. He was strange and seemed a little too calm had happened. I was so mad that her life was taken. I could see her, lying crumpled on the floor with her lifeless eyes staring up at me. I felt so much anger at what Reiner Hartmann had done. I was mad and sad at the same time which made me sob and scream and feel like my heart was being ripped out of my chest.
Minka was moved at that time to another concentration camp. She was forced to walk for two weeks. When she found shelter in the women’s shed I was happy. I thought she would finally get away from all the pain. But she was dragged back there. By that the time, however, the war was ending and she was saved. I couldn’t help feeling completely lost though. After everything that happened, how could everything have been saved so quickly? How could Darija have been murdered mere weeks before the end of the war? I was happy though that Minka had survived. I was still furious about the events previous but I was glad she was okay.
That took us to part 3; the conviction of Josef Webber. Sage was with Leo and I really liked that I felt that she really deserved him and he really loved her. Minka died in this part though and that made me sob like she was my own grandmother. After everything she had been through and everything she had seen, she had died. I felt like she was ready though. That after finally releasing the last part of her into someone else’s hands and revealing what had kept her trapped for years, she was finally free. Free to be reunited with everyone she loved. Her mother, her father, her sister, her niece and Darija the girl who truly was her best friend.
The final ending was extremely disappointing though. Sage did kill Josef which was something I didn’t think she would ever do so that seriously annoyed me. But the biggest twist of all was that Josef Webber wasn’t Reiner Hartmann. He was his brother, Franz. It did kind of make sense and my Mummy actually guessed that he was Franz but it completely shook me and took me by surprise. Sage learned he was Franz in the end but didn’t share the information with Leo and that confused me as to why. I understand why she didn’t say she killed him but she could’ve said he was Franz.
This book truly was amazing though. Jodi Piccoult perfectly described the effects of the war, keeping me on the edge of my seat willing for more to be read. It was moving, emotional and testing all at once. It made me look at the second world war in a completely different way and tested me to not vomit at the thought of the terrible events that occurred. This book is truly amazing and it opened my eyes to a lot of things. The Storyteller has been granted a 5 star rating.
Signing off, Charlie.