by Jodi Picoult
I didn't really know what I was getting into when I started this book. I just knew that it was time for me to start a book that I couldn't put down. I don't know if it was karma or what, but this was that book.
Jodi tells a holocaust story through several different voices. The first is the voice of Sage, an emotionally damaged and scarred baker. She's a young woman alive in the present day and full of insecurities and doubts about who she really is. She comes by baking naturally, but takes the career as a way to work solo at night and seclude herself from the perceived stares of strangers. She's aware that her grandmother is a holocaust survivor. Because her grandmother never talked about it, that knowledge has never really impacted her.
Another voice of the story is a man named Josef who befriends Sage. He is in his 90's and ultimately wants Sage to help him die. He is a Nazi war criminal who's past has never been discovered. He feels he is cursed to live forever with his unfathomable past. He needs Sage to assist in his death. He tells her what he's done, but somewhat "gently" until she forces him to admit that his atrocities are greater and demanding specifics.
Sage's grandmother adds the voice of a holocaust survivor to the story. Not wanting to go back to that time, she is eventually persuaded to tell her story to Sage and the Nazi hunter that Sage has contacted. The Storyteller is the grandmother. Once an aspiring author in her pre-war youth, she used her stories as distraction in the concentration camp.
Through these voices, and the voice of the Nazi hunter, the holocaust is brought to life for the reader, from the perspectives of holocaust victim and Nazi. The subject of forgiveness is discussed as a Jew, who believe that only the person harmed can offer forgiveness, therefore, Sage cannot forgive Josef because she was never one of his victims. His victims are dead so he cannot be forgiven. Forgiveness is discussed from a Christian perspective; forgiveness is given not to wipe away or deny the act, but to allow the forgiver to move on by leaving the negative feelings that destroy you behind.
Closing the back cover of this book didn't take me away from the story. It continues to swirl around in my mind, demanding that I revisit the issues and consider the outcome. There is a twist to the tale (ha- I figured it out before I got there, will you?) that makes Sage's final decision perhaps a bit regretful.
Five of five shots. Long live Picoult!