I hate Americans. I hate the way they think they are (or ought to be) the greatest country in the world. I hate that they define Trump as the leader of the free world and I hate their self-righteousness as liberators of oppressed countries.
Which is why I hate The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult.
We start off with the blandest of bland protagonist, cookie-cutter pretty girl with a scar and a shameful past. She’s also a baker, because she wants to bake all night to hide herself away from the world (never mind that most bakers starts at four in the morning and bake until 10am, but whatevs). Sage, yeah that’s her name, starts baking in the evening, saying hi to the barista (who only speaks in haiku, because….nope. I can’t even), and then it’s just her and her boss and an old, beloved member of the community named Joseph Weber who’s stuck there for some reason and she also knows him from sorrow-group. Whatever, literally not important. The two become friends and Weber decides to confess his war crimes as an officer in Nazi-Germany. Sage is apparently the only Jewish woman he’s met in a while and he wants her forgiveness.
Forgiving isn’t something you do for someone else. It’s something you do for yourself. It’s saying, ‘You’re not important enough to have a stranglehold on me.’ It’s saying, ‘You don’t get to trap me in the past. I am worthy of a future.”
Sage is immediately all like NOPE, and reports him, thusly introducing the most insufferable American type ever, an FBI agent name Leo Stein who says shit like
“I’ve been trying for years to get Europeans to develop a moral backbone to take Nazis back and prosecute them and it hardly ever happens.”
Fuck you, fuck Americans. You don’t even know what it’s like to learn about the atrocities committed by your NEIGHBOURS and then still go on and love them. For the record, Germany is a kick-ass country full of culture and compassion. It’s illegal to be a Nazi in Germany. It is not illegal in the U.S.A.
The Storyteller paints the U.S.A. as heros and completely disregards the history of Japanese internment camps where the U.S.A. did the exact same thing as the Nazis: detaining their own citizens and making them work in camps. And let’s not even speak about what’s currently happening over there which just made Leo even fucking worse. He’s just another American who wants to drop in and solve everything not because it’s right, but because they want to be praised.
“Inside each of us is a monster; inside each of us is a saint. The real question is which one we nurture the most, which one will smite the other.”
Now as much as I hate Leo Stein and Sage, the middle part is alright. It tells the story of Sage’s grandmother during the war and her experiences as well as Joseph Weber’s experiences. It’s exactly as heart wrenching as it should be reading about the war crimes, the uncountable deaths and the horrible evil that can be brought out in humanity. But then Leo and Sage also fall in love in what is like the grossest most shoehorned romance in the history of novels.
In the end, Picoult even manages to void the moral dilemmas she poses by introducing a twist that completely invalidates her questions of forgiveness in the first place. This book is complete and utter trash, not to mention exploitative of real people’s experiences in the war.
Don’t read this, don’t read this, don’t read this.