The Storyteller Book by Jodi Picoult

The Storyteller Book by Jodi Picoult

Quickie spoiler: Sage kills Josef. Josef was really Franz all along.

The Storyteller Book by Jodi Picoult

The Setup
Twenty-five year old Sage Singer meets ninety-five year old Josef Weber in the New Hampshire-based grief-counseling group she’s been attending since her mother’s death three years ago. After quickly forming a friendship, Josef asks Sage to help him die: during World War II, he was an SS (Schultz-Staffel) guard and can no longer live with the guilt of all the people he killed. Instead of granting his request, Sage goes behind Josef’s back and straight to Human Rights and Special Prosecution lawyer Leo Stein. Sage discovers that Josef’s real name is Reiner Hartmann; he was the Schutzhaftlagerführer of the women’s camp in Auschwitz (a role that had him responsible for keeping the camp in order) while his younger brother, Franz, was theHauptscharführer sergeant, in charge of administrative duties.

The Twist
As teenagers, Sage’s paternal grandmother, Minka, and her best friend, Darija, were in the same women’s camp of which the Hartmann brothers were in charge. Thanks to her knowledge of German, Minka became Franz’ secretary. Franz was sympathetic and kind to Minka, while Josef/Reiner was brutal and cruel; their differing personalities made them conflict often. Then, one day when Minka let Darija accompany her to Franz’ office, they caught Josef/Reiner stealing from Franz’ safe, so Josef/Reiner shot Darija to death. When Franz walked in during the incident and confronted him, Josef/Reiner claimed that he had caught the girls stealing and shot Darija to punish her. He threatened to shoot Minka as well if Franz didn’t punish her, so Franz was forced to brutally beat up Minka to save her life. Eventually, Minka escaped Auschwitz. Unfortunately, she is unable to identify Josef when Leo presents her with a picture of him. Shortly after, she passes away in her sleep.

The Spoiler
Sage visits Josef while wearing a wire (as Leo listens in). He confesses not only to shooting Darija, but admits he would’ve shot Minka, too, if Franz hadn’t walked in. Sage was supposed to use his confession as evidence to prosecute him, but instead she goes behind Leo’s back and returns to Josef’s to give him a poisoned roll, then stands by and watches him die. Later, when Leo returns to Josef’s with Sage, she acts surprised when they find Josef’s dead body. But her surprise is genuine when she discovers that Josef hadn’t been Reiner after all, but Franz.

Additional Spoilers:
As a teenager, Minka wrote a novel about a girl, Ania. Some of the residents of the village where Ania lived were being brutally attacked by a vampire. Ania soon discovered that the vampire was the brother of Aleks, the man whom she loved. Aleks was also involved in some of the killings (not voluntarily, but because it was his nature) but was not as brutal as his brother. Much of the novel focused on Ania’s struggle of loving a man who was a “monster”. At the camp, when Franz discovered Minka’s novel, he insisted that she finish the story, but she never did. Later, when Sage discovers that Josef is really Franz, she finds the novel in his possession – and that he attempted to write several endings for it.

Sage’s mother died after the two were involved in a car accident that occurred when Sage was driving. It leaves Sage with scars both physical and emotional.

Sage is dating a married man named Adam, who owns the funeral home where her mother’s wake was held. She eventually dumps him and becomes involved with Leo.

Close to the end of the novel, Josef tires of Sage’s indecision and unsuccessfully tries taking his own life. When Sage visits him in the hospital, he confesses that he’d coincidentally met her mother years ago; he was going to ask her to help him die after finding out that she was related to a Holocaust survivor (Minka being her mother-in-law) but then she passed away before he could. He didn’t realize Sage was her daughter at first, but once he did, he thought it was fate and that’s why he decided to ask her.

Before Josef eats the poisoned roll, he reveals that, after the camps were disbanded and the Hartmann brothers ended upon the run, he’d stood by and watched Franz choke to death on fruit because he’d been angry that Franz reported him for shooting Darija.

Tag : The Storyteller Book , book the storyteller

The Storyteller Book by Jodi Picoult
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