If you have not read Jodi Picoult’s “The Storyteller” stop reading now and go read the book first.
This is the second part in a four-part series based on my opinion in where “The Storyteller” went wrong. Yes, I know this is a work of fiction, but it’s based on a historical event. Jodi Picoult admits the idea for this book came from Simon Wiesenthal’s “The Sunflower”; where a Nazi soldier is dying in a camp and asks for forgiveness from a Jew for his acts against Jews. The similarities to other works didn’t stop there. In “The Storyteller”, the employer of children from the ghetto locks the children in the office for the night on the night that the children in the ghetto were to be murdered. This act saves several children including Minka. This scene is strangely similar to “Schindler’s List”. In “The Storyteller”, Minka and her best friend Darija are dancing and a Nazi comes along, pauses and offers Darija his business card for dance lessons. This scene has “The Pianist” written all over it. The Lodz Ghetto seems like a cakewalk and it certainly wasn’t. The barracks within Auschwitz were not an all for one, one for all atmosphere and if you stole something while sorting belongings there wasn’t a second chance, you were shot. The Jewish customs weren’t completely correct either. Through much of the book we are left to wonder about how Sage got her scar. We don’t find this out until the end. Too much was left to be resolved at the end.
I know fiction doesn’t need to be factual. However, I believe if you are going to write a story based on an actual event in history, the facts should be portrayed correctly. Jodi Picoult borrowed, I’m using that turn loosely, themes from other books on the same topic. In my opinion that compromises her credibility for this story. This is the first book I’ve read from this author and I’m disappointed. I have nothing against Jodi Picoult, I just wish this book was more thought out and presented differently and better than it is. I know I missed other parts that didn’t work well, but I chose to focus on the parts that irritated me the most. If you’ve read “The Storyteller” what part bothered you and why?
The next part in this series will be about what I think went right.
I’m going out on a limb here to say I cannot believe Jodi Picoult’s “The Storyteller” is a best seller. I know this opinion is not a popular one if you look at her reviews on Amazon. “The Storyteller” is currently #1 on New York Time’s best seller list for hardcover fiction. I read this book and I’m surprised it is doing as well as it is. I physically cringed as I read reviews proclaiming “The Storyteller” is the best book ever. I am going to break my thoughts up into 4 smaller blogs (mainly because everyone is so busy and I like reading shorter blogs).
Let me first tell you where I get my viewpoint on this book. I studied the aftermath of WWII and the holocaust for a semester and at the end of the semester we went to Germany and Poland for 2 weeks. During those 2 weeks we stood in the redwood forests in Poland where Jews were murdered, we were led through Auschwitz-Birkenau by a man who survived Auschwitz as a child, we stood in the gas chambers and saw the scratches in the concrete from fingernails as people tried to claw themselves out, we walked through the ghettos and saw evidence of what transpired there not so long ago. There is still a presence there that is difficult to describe. It gives me chills to this day.
Arbeit Macht Frei translated means work shall set you free.
I read “The Storyteller” for a book club. I thought it sounded interesting as I have vast knowledge on the subject, however, I do not claim I’m an expert. Some of my book club went and saw Jodi Picoult at a reading and she spoke about how it became the book it is. She interviewed several holocaust survivors and a few other people. She spent 9 months doing research and writing this book. She said something that took me off guard and aback. She mentioned she was a cash cow and couldn’t go wrong. And that, my friend, is where she initially went wrong. In my opinion she is banking on her name to sell books. I got the feeling she thinks she can do some research and throw something together and call it good. People will buy it because her name is on it. Mind you, I know it isn’t easy to research and write a book, but if you are going to take on a topic like the holocaust you had better invest your time in extensive research and get it right. I know it’s not always possible to travel to the locations you write about. However, in this case, she should have traveled to Poland to experience Auschwitz before she wrote this book. She tweeted a couple of hours ago that her publisher took her to Auschwitz TODAY! “The Storyteller” was released February 26, 2013. She missed the mark here. I am going to walk you through the different areas in this book I think went wrong, areas she got right, and what she could have done to make it better; to give the reader the emotional draw that should have been there. Each person reads a book differently based on personal beliefs, experiences, and knowledge base. Yes, people can come to the same conclusion that a book is fabulous or horrid, but their reasons for making that claim differs based on what they personally brought to the table. Stop back to read the rest of the four-part series and if you have read the book, put your own two cents in.
I took this photo on my trip to Auschwitz-Birkenau.