Gripping, unforgettable, heart-breaking, and definitely not an easy book to read.
It tells the story of 25-year-old baker Sage Singer and her unlikely friendship with the town’s very own good Samaritan, 95-year-old Josef Weber. They meet in grief group where Sage goes to cope with the death of her mother. Josef becomes a regular customer in the bakery Sage works for, and then one day, he shocksher by asking her to help end his life, and proceeds to reveal to her the life he led during the Second World War, as well as the atrocities he committed against prisoners of war.
It also tells the story of Sage’s grandmother, Minka, and how she survived the Holocaust. She recounts how she lost her family and friends one by one, and what she did to survive the Auschwitz concentration camp.
It’s a big subject to discuss in a fiction book, but I think Picoult has done a great job in telling the story from different points of view. How do you forgive someone who has killed hundreds of Jews? How do you get justice for your gentle grandmother who has lived through horrors no one should ever even live through in the first place? And how do you decide to help someone die? These are definitely complex moral questions with no black or white answers.