What Makes a Best Seller a Best Seller? – Part 4

SPOILER ALERT!
SPOILER ALERT!

If you have not read Jodi Picoult’s “The Storyteller” stop reading now and go read the book first.

Writing a book is difficult sometimes. There are characters to develop, locations to create and describe, and of course there must be a plot. Putting all theses elements together can become a balancing act. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Jodi Picoult is no different from any other author. She has just as many obstacles if not more that the average writer because people expect great things from her based on the other books she has published. So where could she have made this story better? I’m so glad you are still here reading this series because I have a few ideas on that subject.

The first area I would change to make “The Storyteller” better is the main character. We have no vested interest in Sage. I felt her whole character was tongue in cheek.  Sage is a baker and surprise, she has one sister Pepper and one Saffron. She works at Our Daily Bread, a bakery owned by an ex-nun, Mary. All I can really say here is really?! Because of all of this mockery I don’t find Sage to be a believable character. I struggled with why Josef would choose Sage to help him when she doesn’t follow the Jewish faith.

This is a work by Israeli artist, Menashe Kadishman at The Jewish Museum in Berlin. It's called "Shalekhet" or "Fallen Leaves". There are over 10,000 faces covering the floor. He has dedicated them to the innocent victims of war and violence. When these faces are walked on they moan in different tones.

This is a work by Israeli artist, Menashe Kadishman at The Jewish Museum in Berlin. It’s called “Shalekhet” or “Fallen Leaves”. There are over 10,000 faces covering the floor. He has dedicated them to the innocent victims of war and violence. When these faces are walked on they moan in different tones.

To me a more believable, more interesting story would have Minka as the main character. Minka is Sage’s grandmother, she’s Jewish and a Holocaust survivor. If Minka was the baker and Josef asked her to help him wow would this book have exploded. The internal struggle Minka could have had with this would have been amazing. Would Minka chose to take revenge for her friend, Darija, and help Josef end his life. What would have happened if Minka found out Josef was the same Hauptscharfuhrer that saved her life several times? Could she have still helped Josef in his mission? Sage didn’t have any power to forgive Josef for his crimes, Minka did. This is the story I wanted to read, this is not the story I read. I’m disappointed because it could have been so much better.

The story Minka wrote on the backs of the pictures she stole from Kanada is woven throughout the book. It was differentiated by using different fonts and quite frankly I was more lost trying to figure out how this vampire story fit in with everything else that it almost made me stop reading. I think it would have been ok to leave the parts in where Hauptscharfuhrer wants to know how it ends and the little snippets here and there. The rest of the story that was in a different font and separated out needs to be added at the end of the book so people could enjoy the story Minka wrote by reading it all at one time. We would still see the parallels between the story and what was happening in the ghetto and concentration camps. By spreading it out, the story lost its flow.

The last issue I had with “The Storyteller” is at the end when Sage covers up Minka’s tattooed number on her arm. When Sage reached in the coffin I thought for sure she was going to roll Minka’s sleeve up in honor of her grandmother’s strength and what she had been through. It didn’t need to be a secret anymore. I almost threw the book across the room when out came the make-up to cover up Minka’s number. Why in the world would Sage cover up Minka’s tattoo?

As you can see there could have been a completely different story here if someone would have taken the time to edit this book properly and look for a way to make this story better.

We all read books differently, I discussed that in part one of this series. Based on that, who then decides if a book is good or not? What makes a best seller? An authors name? A good story line with developed characters that make you think?

I am open to thoughts here because I’m convinced “The Storyteller” became a best seller because of an author’s name, and I don’t like that.

This is a monument in Krakow, Poland. The chairs symbolize the furniture the Jews were forced to leave behind as the entered the trains. They are facing different directions because the people were scattered. Each chair faces the direction of a concentration camp, their final destination.

This is a monument in Krakow, Poland. The chairs symbolize the furniture the Jews were forced to leave behind as the entered the trains. They are facing different directions because the people were scattered. Each chair faces the direction of a concentration camp, their final destination.

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