*No spoilers, no BS.
The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult, 2013:
Page-turning Quality: 7
Love It or Hate It: Love it
Why?: The Holocaust is one of the most captivating times in history and one that I find most interesting. I could read about that era repeatedly, and I will still learn something new each time. The Storyteller brings to life the realities of the war and lets us in on what it’s like to live with the consequences today.
The story is sometimes a tough one to swallow—particularly in Part 2—but it’s important to read. Picoult makes you feel things you don’t want to feel and surprises you repeatedly. If you pay close enough attention, you can guess the ending, but it’s a twist nonetheless. (I didn’t really have an idea of how it would end until I had roughly 50 pages left.) The love story is secondary but typical; it adds a sweet element and softens the story just enough. Without it, it may have been too heavy of a read for me.
The appeal of this book is the history and the moral dilemma of forgiving a former SS soldier. I love a book that puts me in the character’s shoes, think about what I would do, and ponder what’s right and wrong. Picoult does just that. This story isn’t just set in ’30s- and ’40s-Poland, she uses real experiences from Holocaust survivors to craft her story. I love a good historical fiction novel, but this is pretty damn real.
If you’re looking for a book that will sit with you for a while, read The Storyteller. If you’re looking for an easy read to enjoy before bed, this one won’t exactly put you to sleep.
Something I Learned: Not everyone deserves your forgiveness. You deserve to be free of any burden or pain someone’s caused you, but letting go of hatred doesn’t always require forgiveness.
Many people have been unforgivably wronged and struggle with the thought of holding a grudge. It creates negative energy and sometimes overpowers your heard space. However, this story has taught me that withholding forgiveness isn’t the same as harboring hatred, and you are capable of being at peace.
Friends and family could tell you to let it go; they might say it’s not worth your energy. What’s not-so-bad to others could be a big deal to you and vice versa. You aren’t morally obligated to forgive people, and it doesn’t make you a bad person to stand up for what you believe in.
Not every “I’m sorry” deserves an “it’s okay.”