From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
Best-seller Picoult takes on a heavy subject in her latest outing: the Holocaust. At 25, Sage Singer is scarred, both physically and mentally, by the car accident that took her mother's life. A baker who works at night in a New Hampshire shop run by a former nun, Sage shuns almost all human contact, save for her coworkers and her funeral-director boyfriend, Adam, who is married to another woman. Sage ventures out of her comfort zone to befriend Josef Weber, an elderly retired teacher, who throws her world into chaos when he tells her that he's a former SS officer and asks her to help him end his life. Sage, whose grandmother Minka survived the Holocaust, reaches out to the Department of Justice and is connected with Leo Stein, a charismatic attorney and Nazi hunter. Leo travels to New Hampshire to investigate Sage's claims, which leads them to Minka, who shares a surprising connection to Josef. Based on extensive research, this is a powerful and riveting, sometimes gut-wrenching, read, in which the always compelling Picoult brings a fresh perspective to an oft-explored topic. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Picoult will tour widely with this bold moral inquiry, connecting with book clubs and making television, radio, and online appearances.--Huntley, Kristine Copyright 2010 Booklist
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Picoult (Change of Heart) reconfigures themes from her other bestsellers for her uneven new morality tale. Twenty-five-year-old reclusive baker Sage Singer befriends the elderly Josef Weber, who shares something shocking from his past and asks her to help him die, a request that pins Sage between morality and retribution. Sage, a Jew who now considers herself an atheist, begins to think more deeply about faith. Picoult examines the links between family identity, religion, humanity, and how it all figures in difficult decisions. The three-parter is narrated by several characters, including Sage's grandmother Minka, who survived the Holocaust. Snippets of a novel Minka wrote focus on a bloodthirsty beast, a metaphor for life in a death camp. Picoult's formulaic approach to Minka's accounts of the Holocaust is a cheap shot, but the author appreciates Sage's moral bind. Nearly half of the book is devoted to a verbose, sad recounting of Minka's time during the war, but the real conflict lies within Sage. That conflict, and the complexity of a character who discovers herself through the trials of Josef and Minka, is the book's saving grace. Agent: Laura Gross, the Laura Gross Literary Agency. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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Baker Sage Singer lives a solitary life. She toils through the night, preparing the next day's bread and hiding scars both visible and buried. After she strikes up an unlikely friendship with retired German teacher Josef Weber, the loved and respected nonagenarian reveals to her that he's a former SS officer in hiding. He confesses that he seeks forgiveness, then wants to die for the terrible acts he committed at Auschwitz, where Sage's grandmother Minka was interned during the Polish occupation. Weaving together the stories of Sage, Josef, and Minka is the fable of a young girl, Ania, and the bloodthirsty monster who terrorizes her. Verdict Picoult is no stranger to tackling difficult issues. Her latest page-turner confronts the oft-explored subject of the Holocaust with skill, starkness, and tremendous sensitivity. The characters' stories are compelling, but the stellar storyteller here is Picoult, who braids the quartet of intersecting tales into a powerful allegory of loss, forgiveness, and the ultimate humanity of us all. Her myriad fans are in for satisfying doses of everything they've come to expect from her: compulsive readability, impeccable research, and a gut-wrenching Aha! of an ending. [See Prepub Alert, 8/16/12.]-Jeanne Bogino, New Lebanon Lib., NY (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.