BLURB: “For seventy years Josef Weber has been hiding in plain sight. He is a pillar of his local community. He is also a murderer. When Josef decides to confess, it is to Sage Singer, a young woman who trusts him as her friend. What she hears shatters everything she thought she knew and believed. As Sage uncovers the truth from the darkest horrors of war, she must follow a twisting trail between terror and mercy, betrayal and forgiveness, love – and revenge.”
REVIEW: I was so excited to read this book as I knew it incorporated two of my favourite things – Picoult, and history. This was a very dark story, however, even by Picoult standards, as it deals with the unspeakably horrific events of the Holocaust, and although Picoult deals with the matter extremely sensitively, brilliantly portraying its brutality in a way that doesn’t for a moment allow readers to forget that not only is this all terrifying to read, it’s all true, and this is what makes it hard to read. The story is told from the perspectives of Sage Singer, a damaged young baker trying to hide from the world; Minka, her grandmother, a Holocaust survivor; Leo, a Nazi-hunting detective working for the FBI; and a girl called Ania, from a story that Minka wrote during her youth that was shaped by her time at Auschwitz. It is difficult to write about the story without giving too much away, but the real moral dilemma of the story begins when Sage meets Josef Weber, an elderly widow, at a grief counselling group. As they form an unlikely friendship, Josef confesses to Sage that he is a former Nazi, and asks her to help kill him as he can no longer live with his guilt. Sage is then left with the dilemma – does she kill Josef as a punishment for who he was? Or does she forgive him and save him because of who he is now? The reader experiences this moral conflict with Sage, particularly as she recruits Nazi hunter Leo to help her find out more about Josef’s past – and if he is even telling the truth. Reading the horrific story of Minka, Sage’s grandmother, and her time in the concentration camps makes the dilemma all the more intense for both Sage and Minka, particularly as it emerges that Josef was responsible for some of her suffering. I will say no more for fear of spoilers, but I will say that although at times the true horror of the subject can make the book distressing and difficult to read, it is a thoroughly researched and moving portrayal and, I would imagine, deals with a lot of the issues that both victim and Nazi survivors face. I would highly recommend it.