By: Jodi Picoult
Published: February 26, 2013
Sage Singer befriends an old man who’s particularly beloved in her community. Josef Weber is everyone’s favorite retired teacher and Little League coach. They strike up a friendship at the bakery where Sage works. One day he asks Sage for a favor: to kill him. Shocked, Sage refuses…and then he confesses his darkest secret – he deserves to die, because he was a Nazi SS guard. Complicating the matter? Sage’s grandmother is a Holocaust survivor.
What do you do when evil lives next door? Can someone who’s committed a truly heinous act ever atone for it with subsequent good behavior? Should you offer forgiveness to someone if you aren’t the party who was wronged? And most of all – if Sage even considers his request – is it murder, or justice?
Always a fan of Jodi Picoult, I had no doubt about reading this novel. What I wasn’t expecting was to be completely blown away and left speechless. Picoult has outdone herself and this book will be hard to beat as my favorite of hers.
I have always loved historical fiction and especially those set during WWI and WWII. Even though it is hard to “love” a story about the horrors of the Holocaust, they have always hit me to the core. This one was no exception. Picoult has a new way of telling the stories of victims and survivors and giving us a different perspective to contemplate.
Picoult expertly tells the stories of Sage, her grandmother Minka, and Josef taking us into their past and bringing us to their present. There are tragedies, horrors, bits of hope, and a fairy tale that keep you turning the pages. You will gasp, cry, and cringe as the story of Minka is told. Knowing she makes it through is what keeps you reading and reminds you to have hope in the midst of evil.
The underlying theme of forgiveness spoke to me the most. I’ve personally learned that harboring anger and resentment only continues to feed the monster in your head and in your heart. Picoult’s message of forgiveness rang true to me and reminded me of one of the best decisions I have made….to forgive and let it go.
This was our book club choice for the month and I think all of us could have talked about this book for hours. Unfortunately, we had to go back to the reality of motherhood. But, each one of us commented on how much this book affected us emotionally. I don’t think I have ever highlighted so many passages in one book. Picoult has an expertise in telling a story with life quotes and lessons that you want to remember forever.
Without a doubt, pick up this novel at your local library or bookstore and set aside a day or two to read it. The story will linger with you for days and it may even change you.
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