Reviews for Storyteller

Booklist Reviews 2013 February #1
Best-seller Picoult takes on a heavy subject in her latest outing: the Holocaust. At 25, Sage Singer is scarred, both physically and mentally, by the car accident that took her mother's life. A baker who works at night in a New Hampshire shop run by a former nun, Sage shuns almost all human contact, save for her coworkers and her funeral-director boyfriend, Adam, who is married to another woman. Sage ventures out of her comfort zone to befriend Josef Weber, an elderly retired teacher, who throws her world into chaos when he tells her that he's a former SS officer and asks her to help him end his life. Sage, whose grandmother Minka survived the Holocaust, reaches out to the Department of Justice and is connected with Leo Stein, a charismatic attorney and Nazi hunter. Leo travels to New Hampshire to investigate Sage's claims, which leads them to Minka, who shares a surprising connection to Josef. Based on extensive research, this is a powerful and riveting, sometimes gut-wrenching, read, in which the always compelling Picoult brings a fresh perspective to an oft-explored topic. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Picoult will tour widely with this bold moral inquiry, connecting with book clubs and making television, radio, and online appearances. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2013 January #2
A baker enlists a Nazi hunter to entrap a nonagenarian who may have brutalized her grandmother in Picoult's ambitious latest. Sage, who works in a bakery attached to a New Hampshire retreat center, prefers the overnight hours bakers keep. Her face is scarred (from a trauma not immediately revealed), and she is mourning her mother's recent death. Having abandoned her Jewish faith, Sage is estranged from her two sisters, but she is still close to her grandmother, Minka, a Holocaust survivor. Josef, a much respected 95-year-old retired German teacher, confesses to Sage that he is a former SS officer, real name Reiner, who once was an Auschwitz guard. Sage calls in Leo, a Washington, D.C.–based FBI agent who specializes in tracking down Nazi fugitives. Leo asks her to elicit Minka's story, never before told, in hopes of finding an eyewitness to Josef's atrocities. Reiner's and Minka's wartime experiences form the bulk of the novel. Reiner, a bully recruited early by the Hitler Youth and later by the SS, is soon inured to slaughter by presiding over mass killings of Jews in Poland. Later assigned to Auschwitz along with his (comparatively speaking) gentler and more sensitive brother Franz, Reiner distinguishes himself as a particularly brutal overseer of the women's camp. Franz, meanwhile, keeps his hands relatively blood-free by supervising the camp's accounting office. Minka's story takes her from an idyllic childhood as a baker's daughter to the misery of the Polish ghetto and imprisonment in Auschwitz. Readers will see the final twist coming far in advance due to unwieldy plot contrivances which only serve to emphasize what they are intended to conceal. Still, a fictional testament as horrifying as it is suspenseful. Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Library Journal Reviews 2012 September #2
Everyone loves retired teacher and Little League coach Josef Weber, including Sage Singer, who befriends him after they start talking at the bakery where she works. So obviously she's horrified when he asks her to kill him. Then he tells her why he deserves to die, and she's inclined to agree. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Library Journal Reviews Newsletter
Linking the stories of baker Sage Singer, retired German teacher Josef Weber, Sage's grandmother Minka, and of a mythological beast, ¬Picoult's page-turner challenges its readers to face the horrors and rare moments of compassion that defined the Holocaust. Picoult "braids the quartet of intersecting tales into a powerful allegory of loss, forgiveness, and the ultimate humanity of us all [with] compulsive readability, impeccable research, and a gut-wrenching Aha! of an ending." [LJ Xpress Reviews, 2/1/13]--BLF (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2013 January #3

Picoult (Change of Heart) reconfigures themes from her other bestsellers for her uneven new morality tale. Twenty-five-year-old reclusive baker Sage Singer befriends the elderly Josef Weber, who shares something shocking from his past and asks her to help him die, a request that pins Sage between morality and retribution. Sage, a Jew who now considers herself an atheist, begins to think more deeply about faith. Picoult examines the links between family identity, religion, humanity, and how it all figures in difficult decisions. The three-parter is narrated by several characters, including Sage's grandmother Minka, who survived the Holocaust. Snippets of a novel Minka wrote focus on a bloodthirsty beast, a metaphor for life in a death camp. Picoult's formulaic approach to Minka's accounts of the Holocaust is a cheap shot, but the author appreciates Sage's moral bind. Nearly half of the book is devoted to a verbose, sad recounting of Minka's time during the war, but the real conflict lies within Sage. That conflict, and the complexity of a character who discovers herself through the trials of Josef and Minka, is the book's saving grace. Agent: Laura Gross, the Laura Gross Literary Agency. (Mar.)

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