This is the best book I’ve thrown in the resale pile so far. It was good. Very good. So good I debated keeping it. But this is definitely in the “glad I read this once, never putting myself through it again” pile.
Sage, our imperfect protagonist of the frame tale, is a reclusive baker who befriends an old man in the grief support group she attends to deal with the loss of her mother. A car accident three years prior has left Sage permanently scarred physically as well as emotionally, as it contributed to her mother’s death, and she avoids everyone in her family save her grandmother, a holocaust survivor.
You guessed it. I didn’t because I’m not very smart, I guess. The old man, “Josef” confesses to Sage that he is a former Nazi and wants her help to end his life. (I had assumed he was going to be another holocaust survivor because I’m credulous, I guess). Sage instead calls the FBI and meets the agent Leo, who encourages her to talk to her grandmother in hopes she may have encountered him at Auschwitz.
The middle of the book is her grandmother’s story of surviving the holocaust, and while I’m sure it only scratches the surface it’s still a big ol dark vat of nope nope nope never reading this again and hugging my child a little closer.
The twist at the end though made me feel a bit better about not picking up on the obvious initially, because from the first section of the book, with Josef’s confession, I went from initial surprise to “oh, it’s going to turn out that *REDACTED* and boy howdy was I right.
I like Picoult as a writer, but from the three or four books of hers I’ve read so far, she has a problem with too-convenient plotting, and this is no exception. It reminds me quite a bit of another book that would give away the twist if I named it, only less elegantly done. But let’s be real, if I didn’t stuff that middle section of holocaust life down the memory hole, this would probably be a keeper.