Monday Reading Time!
I enjoyed some adult reading this week and finished up The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult
Quick summary: The best Holocaust fiction I’ve read. So glad I picked up another Picoult after taking a break from her.
More: Wow. What can I say about this book? I was so hesitant to read another Picoult. So many of her books are in my ultimate favorite books EVER list.. (The Pact, Harvesting the Heart, Nineteen Minutes, Mercy) but after reading all 20 or so of them in one summer I kind of needed a break from her courtroom-drama-huge-reveal-at-the-end style. Fortunately, this one was NOT a courtroom drama. And the best part? There is a twist at the end that I would have NEVER seen coming. Not in a million years. That always makes me happy. 🙂
The main character, Sage, has her own little drama storyline, and it isn’t too annoying and doesn’t subtract from the other story. Sage meets a 90-year old man who confesses to her that he is a former SS soldier. The horrific things that he describes doing are *very* hard to read. In fact, this novel disturbed me so much more than any of the other Holocaust novels I’ve read (and I think I’ve pretty much read them all).
But the Nazi soldier’s account of his life story isn’t all hate and evil. The book does an excellent job of showing how a normal boy from a loving family could grow up, be recruited, and end up doing such terrible things. And after all, isn’t that one of the wonders of the Holocaust? I’ll definitely use portions of his story (screened, of course) when I study Holocaust literature with my 8th graders to spark some discussion.
Here’s the preview I gave you in last Monday’s reading: As a boy, Joseph struggles in school, always getting into trouble for fighting. He fights and shows aggression to hide the fact that he isn’t smart enough to keep up. In comparison, his slightly younger brother is brainy and book smart and has an easy time at life (or so Joseph thinks). Joseph is in this frame of mind when the Hitler’s Youth programs spring up and he joins like the rest of his peers. Suddenly, he is good at something! They are going camping and participating in athletic feats and Joseph excels. He’s at the top of his class! He’s never felt like he was worth anything until now. As he grows older, he joins Hitler’s army (hope I’m using the right terms here) and finds out he is excellent at being a soldier, obeying orders, and believing what he is told to believe without questioning it. Of course, his brother has a very, very hard time with all of this, so the tables have turned.
Of course, Joseph (the Nazi soldier) isn’t the only storyteller in this book, since Sage’s grandmother was a concentration camp survivor. In fact, the entire part 2 of 3 of the book is her grandmother’s Holocaust story.
Now I’m reading The Lost Wife by Alyson Richman. Yep, you guessed it – Holocaust fiction. I bought it because there was an advertisement for it in The Storyteller. I know, I’m a sucker. But just over halfway done with it and it is really good.
I know I said this last week, but next week I’m totally going to get back into reviewing YA books. I’m glad I indulged a little this summer in some adult fiction, but I’ve got a serious addiction to learning about the Holocaust!