Monday, February 3, 2014

Stunning book that questions the right to forgive

#### Spoiler alert### I am not quite sure if my review contains spoilers- but some of the earlier reviews made similar comments and people suggested spoiler alerts- "If you lived through it, you already now there are no words that will ever come close to describing it." My father told me the same thing. Jodi Piccoult has written a harrowing tale of brutality and survival, opening a window to the holocaust and writing a story as if she is streaming live from it. It is like reading my father's life, there are so many similarities, it's like he was sitting next to me and telling me his story as well. The book is written from several different points of views, from the oppressed to oppressor, explaining the unexplainable, describing the times through a young girl's eyes as her sheltered life is ripped to shreds like the fabled creatures in the shadow story of the imaginary town she creates. The Storyteller is a story, within another story, within another story. It's hard to review it because quite simply it is a complex book. First there is Sage, who lives on the perimeter of society, working at night, her face scarred and marked identifying her as a monster that almost mirrors the vampire's in her grandmother's tale. She breaks society's rules, and a nun admonishes her lack of moral backbone. She is punishing herself for surviving. There is the history of her grandmother, who lived through the holocaust; the fable she created, her talisman for survival. She has held her secrets close to her heart and only her granddaughter's pain allows her to reveal the horror of her youth. By staying mute, she has kept the monsters at bay, and by telling her story, will the demons resurface? Will hate triumph? Then there is Josef, the third survivor, where all the roads in this tale will end up. Each character lives in the shaded area of gray and has to discover the definition of survival, redemption and forgiveness. What is the true meaning of heroism or once a person commits crimes, can they be forgiven? Are some crimes unforgivable? This book unfolds like layers, each tissue revealing a new complexity, leaving you questioning who is the ultimate forgiver of our sins, us or G-d. Can anyone really be washed clean?. I have read many books of the holocaust. I know of it firsthand, and at times I had to close the book, the wave of emotion in my chest making it impossible to read. Piccoult's monster was scarier than any I have ever read, and I am not talking about the vampire. Piccoult always leaves a reader wrestling with the fine line between right and wrong. Was I surprised by the ending, no. It fit together like a well connected puzzle. I will not forget this book.

Happy Reading!
Carole P. Roman

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