Monday, April 8, 2013

Holocaust Remembrance Day ~ April 8, 2013

Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom Hashoah).  I've just finished reading a novel about that time, set in the time when I was a baby.

The Storyteller ~ by Jodi Picoult, 2013, fiction (New Hampshire and Poland), 8/10
Sage Singer is a baker.  She works through the night, preparing the day’s breads and pastries, trying to escape a reality of loneliness, bad memories, and the shadow of her mother’s death.  When Josef Weber, an elderly man in Sage’s grief support group, begins stopping by the bakery, they strike up an unlikely friendship.  Despite their differences, they see in each other the hidden scars that others can’t, and they become companions.  Everything changes on the day that Josef confesses a long-buried and shameful secret — one that nobody else in town would ever suspect — and asks Sage for an extraordinary favor.  If she says yes, she faces not only moral repercussions, but potentially legal ones as well.  With her own identity suddenly challenged, and the integrity of the closest friend she’s ever had clouded, Sage begins to question the assumptions and expectations she’s made about her life and her family.  When does a moral choice become a moral imperative?  And where does one draw the line between punishment and justice, forgiveness and mercy?
This is a difficult book to read, partly because Jodi Picoult is such an excellent writer that I felt I was there.  Too much there.  I truly can't understand how someone can see a starving concentration camp prisoner reaching for a bit of bread lying in muddy water and stomp on the food with his boot, grinding it underfoot so the person can't have even a taste of it.  Not all Germans were like that, however.  This was my favorite quote from the book, after a farmer's wife took care of a de-humanized person from one of the camps.
"Sometimes all it takes to become human again is someone who can see you that way, no matter how you present on the surface" (p. 350).
We must never forget, especially since some people insist the Holocaust never happened.


Linda said...

I didn't realize The Storyteller was about the Holocaust. I might have to pick it up. Great post!

Shirley said...

I am in the queue for this at our library. Your well-written review makes me more eager for my turn. The horrors of the Holocaust are haunting. Also disturbing are those who want to deny that it happened.