Researching a Story

I spent an amazing evening tonight at Wayzata Central Middle School listening to Jodi Picoult read from her new book “The Storyteller”. I must say she speaks eloquently and is a very engaging speaker. She finished her reading tonight by opening it up for questions. I listened to her explain how she does her research for her books and was very intrigued by the time she puts into developing an accurate storyline and characters. The subject of this book is dear to me because I studied the aftermath of WWII and the holocaust which ended in a two-week trip to Germany and Poland. Those two weeks were the best and the worst all at the same time. I saw sites like Auschwitz-Birkenau, Jewish Old Town, the Warsaw Ghetto, and the inside of a Stasi prison (I could go on and on) that left such a memorable impression that it instantly brings tears to my eyes and I can still smell and feel these places three years later. As I listened to Jodi Picoult speak I wondered if she was able to capture what it is to actually be there and experience something so horrific within this book. She did many interviews with holocaust survivors and the accounts she spoke of tonight fall in line with what I know from studying and experiencing such a place. As I left with my friends I confided that I wasn’t sure if I would be able to read this book all the way through in time to discuss it with the book club we are launching with this book. A book club that is filled to the brim with the people I studied and traveled with to Germany and Poland. The few in this book club that did not go with us on this trip know it just as much as those that went because of all the stories and memories and information we have passed on to them. I’m anxious and frightened to start reading. I want to see if she nailed what it would have been like to be there, to smell it, to live it and yet I don’t want my own nightmares to return. It took me a long time after I returned home to sleep peacefully again. The beautiful redwood forests in Poland contained such horror that it’s difficult to stand in among the trees and see their beauty and yet we tried. I have pictures to prove it. I have amazingly beautiful pictures of everywhere we stopped along the way but that beauty is really tainted when you know first hand what happened in these places when our Stasi prison guides’ father was in the Stasi prison and our guide through Auschwitz survived Auschwitz as a child. This will definitely be an interesting read and an even more interesting discussion afterward.

Imported Photos 00918

This is a picture I took in Jewish Old Town in Krakow Poland.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Researching a Story

  1. Ah Jill, we have our work cut out for us don’t we? I would say at least once every three months I have a dream about something on our trip. Writing my latest book isn’t helping. I’m glad I’m not the only one! On the bright side, I am grateful that we saw and experienced these things, that we talk about them so vividly that others feel that they were there. I think this is the only way to keep the memories alive and the past from repeating as best we can by testifying to others. I’m excited to see what you think of the book as you read it!

    • I absolutely agree. I wouldn’t change anything about what I saw and experienced. I’ll even go again if someone else wanted to go. I’m looking forward to reading your book and I’m wading through The Storyteller.

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