Everyone learns about it at school, I studied it in more detail through history A-level and in depth through German modules during my degree – what I’m referring to is the Holocaust. Most know the basics: the Third Reich, Hitler, Auschwitz, Jews and other undesirables. If it wasn’t studied at school then films such as Schindler’s List and the Pianist, amongst others, start to scratch the surface.
One of the most important genocides in the history of the world which I’ve studied in detail – from German novels to eyewitness accounts. Yet nothing could have prepared me for reading Jodi Picoult’s latest novel – The Storyteller.
Having read Picoult’s novels before, I knew how powerful her writing could be but this is something else. Based in North America following the life of Sage Singer there is nothing at the beginning of this story that you could relate back to the Holocaust apart from the fact her ancestors are Jewish.
Soon the book starts telling the story from the perspective of four different people, broken up with snippets of a fictional story of a monster. The book not only jumps between people but time, from modern day America to the 1930s and 40s, touching on life from the Hitlerjugend to being a Jew in Poland during the 1940s, to life in Auschwitz.
It is not the shock with which Picoult writes that makes you want to turn the page, as the facts we all know. It’s the personal nature she brings to the characters, the individuality she brings to the Jewish victims who didn’t have that luxury during the Holocaust and the question of redemption and forgiveness that does not quite sit well with your conscience.
Be prepared to close your eyes in moments of graphic detail to try and shut off your imagination, shed a tear at times of beauty and horror and to fight with your conscience.
How wonderful is it that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world – Anne Frank, Diary of a Young Girl