Sage Singer befriends an old man who’s particularly beloved in her community. Josef Weber is everyone’s favorite retired teacher and Little League coach. They strike up a friendship at the bakery where Sage works. One day he asks Sage for a favor: to kill him. Shocked, Sage refuses…and then he confesses his darkest secret – he deserves to die, because he was a Nazi SS guard. Complicating the matter? Sage’s grandmother is a Holocaust survivor.
What do you do when evil lives next door? Can someone who’s committed a truly heinous act ever atone for it with subsequent good behavior? Should you offer forgiveness to someone if you aren’t the party who was wronged? And most of all – if Sage even considers his request – is it murder, or justice? (Goodreads)
This is no quick and easy read – it’s a complex and compelling one about good and evil and everything in between. There are stories within the story that are horrifying, sickening, and unbearably sad, and yet I became immersed in every one of them. There is guilt, grief, despair, hope, mindless cruelty, emotional scars, remorse and the lack of it. The main story is told from several points of view, with a vampire tale woven in just to keep you on your toes. Sounds confusing, but ultimately it’s not. It’s gripping and grim, and still remarkable.
Normally I read a book in a few days, but this one took much longer to digest and absorb. It starts off slowly, then nails you to your chair, and finally ends with a twist. If that didn’t hook you, perhaps these quotes will.
“Inside each of us is a monster; inside each of us is a saint. The real question is which one we nurture the most, which one will smite the other.”
“I don’t believe in God. But sitting there, in a room full of those who feel otherwise, I realize that I do believe in people. In their strength to help each other, and to thrive in spite of the odds, I believe that the extraordinary trumps the ordinary, any day. I believe that having something to hope for — even if it’s just a better tomorrow — is the most powerful drug on this planet.”
“Forgiving isn’t something you do for someone else. It’s something you do for yourself. It’s saying, ‘You’re not important enough to have a stranglehold on me.’ It’s saying, ‘You don’t get to trap me in the past. I am worthy of a future.”
Jodi Picoult, The Storyteller