The Storyteller is the Ultimate Story!

Literature Review

Out of the 23 books Jodi Picoult has published, The Storyteller takes you on a phenomenal journey. Sage works in a bakery in New Hampshire at night and sleeps during the day. Through the therapy group she attends after her mother’s recent death she meets Josef Weber. Josef is 95 years old and is a respected, well-known, retired German teacher and little league coach. Most nights Sage and Josef talk while she bakes bread for the next days sales. One evening while Sage is baking her bread, he asks her a rather distressing favour. To kill him. He admits to her that in a time gone by he was a SS Nazi officer, and Auschwitz guard called Reiner. He takes Sage and the reader on a shocking yet fascinating journey describing his, and his much gentler and sensitive, brother Franz’s youth. They were members of the Hitler Youth Group and he detailed to Sage how he came to be a high ranking officer and overseeing mass killings of Jewish in Poland alongside his brother Franz. Alarmed at the information thrown at her, Sage calls in help from an FBI agent who specializes in finding Nazi soldiers outside of Germany. The book covers the childhoods of Josef, and Minka who is Sage’s Jewish grandma. Minka tells her own story about her youth in a Jewish ghetto and her journey in a concentration camp. The truth that unfolds in the final pages of the book as to who Reiner truly is and his connection to Minka, Sage’s final decision about whether she will kill Josef or not, whilst tackling the very riveting and relevant topic of World War Two will leave your mind buzzing like a bee trying to get nectar from the sun, and leaving a tantalising taste in your mouth, desperate for more.

When weaving a basket the weaver uses many different pieces of material, of various sizes, shapes and stains to create something that intrigues you with all of the different layers, yet leaves you pondering how exactly did they do it. Jodi does just this, but with words. Within the The Storyteller the book does just as the title says, tells a collection of stories and details multiple flashbacks. The opening words of the novel is in italics, and tells a story of a of a young baker who’s town is haunted by something evil. These two or three page snippets of this story are scattered around the book. There is some inference to what these may be for, but not until the last chapter do you finally know the reason for this short story. This anecdote, along with the tale of both Minka’s youth and her growing up in a Jewish Ghetto and the description of Josef’s and his brothers youth growing up in Germany will leave you surprised, but very satisfied. The four different point of views and stories, along with the journey of Sage’s decisions adds many layers to the book and allows you to see everyone’s perspective and the reason behind why they may have the done the things they’ve done. After Minka shared her outstanding story she told Sage,“So you see, this is why I never told my story. If you lived through it, you already know there are no words that will ever come close to describing it. And if you didn’t, you will never understand.” This just shows the complexity of Minka’s stories. This complexity is what adds to the many many layers that The Storyteller brought.

Jodi Picoult tackled yet another heavy historic affair and created a fictional story whilst including non-fictional aspects in The Storyteller. Jodi Picoult even said “I write fiction and I can’t imagine the real stories they have lived.” The book is mainly centered around the Holocaust, and explains the moral responsibility behind being a non-practicing Jew and confronts many human rights issues. Even though Jodi is not Jewish, she does have Jewish heritage. By using her knowledge of growing up as a non-practising Jew and implementing that into The Storyteller she creates this world of fiction, that still is very relevant as the Holocaust is a very admissible part of history. By taking on such an eye-opening subject, the reader becomes aware, and starts to ponder on some of these social issues. It gets us thinking.Jodi always does this in her stories, but in The Storyteller she takes it one step further. Jodi unashamedly tells the stories of the horrific things done to Jewish people and the pain and struggle they experienced, just like this quote from the book states, “History isn’t about dates and places and wars. It’s about the people who fill the spaces between them.” Jodi describes the forgiveness, worry, bravery and questions our morality through the power of her words and through taking on such a historic event.

The plot in The Storyteller takes many twists and turns as I have already mentioned the interesting thing about the plot is that the transition between past and present is seamless and easy for readers to follow. She unwraps the layers of the varied stories exquisitely, especially where she uses foreshadowing to keep the reader enthralled. One foreshadow in particular that segwayed readers into an exciting and unexpected twist was “People are never who they seem to be”.  This led to a shocking twist. When reading, it seems as though we are reading from the past when a character is talking about their story, yet it is smooth and coherent. Everyone knows that without a good plot line, with some surprise and wonder, can leave the reader bored and uninterested and the story without any structure. The plot in The Storyteller is definitely not this. The book his engaging and well put together. Many of Picoult’s books have the “I never saw it coming” aspect and as I have read her books before I suspected the plot twist that was coming. Every feature of Jodi’s plot is put together carefully, is conscientious and is very clever writing.

If you are ever in a library and lost like a fish out of water, then The Storyteller needs to be the one to take off of the shelf. It is the best book I have read because of the stories encompassed within stories and all of the layers this brings to the multiple stories, and adds to the overall story. Jodi confronts major humanitarian issues through her writing in tackling the raw affair of the Holocaust.  She has related her fictional story to a non-fictional topic. This creates a sense of connection and emotion to an awful time in history, allowing her to create and deepen a bond between reader and text. Her plot twists add dimension and multiple surprises. Picoult beautifully crafts her writing to be a deeply emotional journey. This book is well worth the read.

Written by Meg Thomas

Creative Writing

Include the following in one story

  • A taxi

  • An old enemy

  • Valentines day

The muffled buzz of the city traps me in my own head. I hesitate, the door handle settled nicely into the crook of my palm, not wanting to go anywhere, just like me. The driver turns around in his seat and gives me the side eye. I can read what is going on in his head, girl you crazy get out of my taxi… so I do. My first step is apprehensive, almost as if my legs have forgotten what they have been doing for the past 24 years, but then they get into a steady rhythm and pull me out of the car and onto the sidewalk without even thanking the patient man who drove me all this way. The constant hustle and bustle of the people and the smell of hot dogs is even more evident than what it was looking at the pictures. New York has always been known as a busy place, but now, stopping and taking it all, busy is an understatement.

432 Park Avenue towers overhead. With one deep breath, my feet lead me inside, through the revolving doors and onto the polished marble floor. The concierge smiles warmly, and for some reason, I gravitate towards her. I guess that is what happens when you have no clue what you are doing. She welcomes me, which is a bit of an insult, as she can tell I am new here. But never the less she is wanting to help me, so for some weird reason, I start to tell her everything. I tell her about Micheal and the cute house with the white picket fence we owned. How one day, one very special day, Micheal never came home. It was Valentine’s day and I had everything lined up, I had a box of chocolates with some flowers and a commitment ring, showing my love towards him. I sat on the couch for three hours in my new laundry waiting for him to come home to my surprise, three hours, but he never did. I called him, over and over and over, until he sent me a text. I got so excited, but then it was the automated text, ‘I’m on my way’. So I got back into position, then he turned up. Not alone. With a girl, Vannessa was her name. They were holding hands and Mich says to me, looks me right in the eyes and I look into his deep brown rich chocolate eyes and he says, I have something to tell you. So many things were going through my head, causing a dizzy blur. He then proceeded to tell me in the most long-winded way that this Vanessa girl, well she was carrying his child, and he wants to be present in their life. He said he’s moving out blah blah blah all those horrible things. I didn’t know what to do or say. Locked myself in the bathroom I did until I was sure he was gone, when I walked out he wasn’t there and so wasn’t all his stuff. Lucky I had the chocolates. ONe year of that event is tomorrow, and for the past year I have been living with my parents, but it has become too hard. I see Vannessa, Micheal and little Johnny walking around town, just two months ago I saw that, so I am moving to New York, to start fresh. The poor lady is staring at me, she askes my name. Jennifer Matthew, I state. she replies with apartment 39. I feel as if I apologize, but I don’t.

The elevator smells like detergent. I ride all the way up to the 95th floor, one of the top. When I hear the ding my attention comes towards the door, which slides open gracefully. I walk the corridor looking around and a tall blonde lady holding the hand of a cute little boy with rich brown eyes walks past. I smile, they must be my neighbours, maybe I can make friends with her and bake her some cookies. WAIT. I know that face. I backtrack and stare her down. no no no. my ovaries fell as if they are about to fall off, it is the witch, Vannessa, and a really cute little boy Johnny.

Willy Wonka New Room – Sherbet Ski Slopes

Sherbet Ski Slopes

The holiness of the gloomy hallway leaves anticipation tingling in your fingertips. Your footsteps echo in the empty hallway. You notice an odd swishing noise like the sound of windscreen wipers cleaning away water droplets. The noise becomes louder as a wooden door becomes larger. The heavy door clunks open in your presence. Immediately it feels as if you have hit a brick wall. The cold combined with an acidic kick on your taste buds knock you backwards. With the few seconds it takes for your eyes to re-adjust, the tingling left on your tongue has subdued just enough to take another step forward.

Above you are white slopes reaching as far as you can see. A long line of black gondolas stands to attention like soldiers on parade, making a divide in the background. Realising that you can no longer feel your feet, you glance down to see… no feet? White has engulfed what had once been your feet. Now your body starts halfway up the shin. Whilst scrambling to try to find your limbs again, the strange, white substance gets on your hands. If this was snow, you would assume that it is edible, so you bend down and reach deep into the powder. Holding the matter in your hands gives an opportunity to have a closer look. The texture is crumbly, but somehow still holds together. The granules seep into the cracks between your fingers. Your tongue reaches towards the pile. You just touch the tip. Immediately your taste buds explode, like fireworks in your cells. Sweet and sour combined with a fizz and a pop is a sensory overload.

A gondola just arrived into the loading bay, so you make a run for it. A surprisingly small human scowls as you cut in the line to catch the chair. The chair groans under your weight but your feet slowly lift off the ground anyway. Now up close you have the chance to discover what the lifts are really made of, as they are giving off a scent that is sweet, but yet bitter. Taking the chance, you stick your tongue on the frigid pole and lick upwards. You immediately regret this as you find that your tongue has stuck firmly. With a few careful tugs it comes off, leaving a taste of dark chocolate lingering in your mouth. You contemplate whether this is why the room has to be so cold. Now halfway up the wire, the sheer beauty of the space is even more visible. A tremendous, glass building to your right has many of the same small people, all working hard around a large metal bowl, bigger than a classroom. Swirling around that is a glass tube, stretching high out of the roof, then kissing the sherbet plains below. The powder is being dumped out onto the bottom of the hill, the pipeline spewing it out so it accumulates in a heap.

A CLUNNNNNKKKKKK takes you by surprise, which grabs your attention away from the workshop. Looking down, you see the ground just below your feet, so you take the opportunity and jump. The lightly packed sherbet consumes your legs. It is a struggle to get out but you manage to slip out of the pocket the sherbet created for you. You trudge out of the deep powder and onto the flat. You imagine this is what it is like to be ‘on top of the world.’ The white reclining slopes are now all below you. You can see the mighty glass workshop in the corner pumping out the sour and acidic substance. The grand door that you entered into this climate now looks miniature, a small part of this large atmosphere. You find your self-sitting down and taking a deep breath in, trying to appreciate all that lies in front of you, the small people speeding down the slopes on skis made of liquorice, the chairlift made of rich chocolate (which you found out the hard way), and the intricate detailing of the poles, which hold two purposes; to keep the lift standing and to store the sherbet.

Another door, like the one you used to come into this room, has appeared in front of you. Your fingers have now become numb, victims to the cold. Once you have taken one last look backwards you grab the hefty handle and step through the frame. Once through into another dark hallway, only then do you notice the constant tingling in your nose left by the citric acid. The sound of your footsteps once again bounces off the walls in the empty hallway. You turn around to see where you came from, but all that is there is a wall, leaving you wondering if all the magical things that just happened were just a figment of your imagination.

Word Challenges

The wild ride is about to begin. She takes a while to decide which filter to apply, juno or lark? Interestingly, she does not adjust the lighting, it must be making her highlight popping already. The angle gets adjusted multiple times, until, finally, it is just right, not to the right, not to the left.  The orange tint in the filter brings out the tan that she has carefully applied the night before. The hair is straightened, and the sunglasses perched carefully on the top of the head. The sausage in the buffet this morning gives her the energy to lift her hand up a little higher, diminishing the five o’clock shadow. She swiftly swipes to the left of her iPhone X to activate portrait mode, smoothing her skin and brightening her eyes. Now it is the time to take 100 photos, all with a different smile. Several looking foolish, some serious. The orange glow from the sun leaves her nose looking snatched.

Layering a scene

  • WALKING DOWN A STREET
  • Trees lining the side of the road
  • Small houses, thin but tall
  • Steep road
  • Cute fences lining the front of the houses
  • Calm

 

  • WINDOW
  • Large window
  • Front of house
  • Large glass pane
  • Feels warm
  • Well lit

 

  • WHAT DO I SEE IN THE WINDOW
  • White sheet attached to wood
  • Large fireplace
  • Large dolls house on cabinet behind
  • Sofas
  • Small coffee table

 

  • ONE THING THAT CATCHES MY EYE
  • The dolls house
  • COLORS
  • Soft pink
  • Creams
  • SIZE
  • Larger than expected
  • DETAIL
  • Small ceramic figurines inside
  • Different bedrooms
  • Small furniture
  • On top of the cabinet

 

The calmness of the street surprises you. England is assumed to always be busy especially as it is prime time, but all that is heard is the squawk of magpies in the distance. The gentle slope of the hill raises your heart beat just enough for you to feel out of breath. Lining the streets are cherry blossom trees, with the bud about to burst and see the world for the first time. An old lady is taking out her trash to your right, she looks up at waves at you. All the houses here are short and tall, some lined with cute little fences holding in their gardens. You stop for a moment to take a deep breath in and regain your normal heart rate A glint catches your eye. It came from a large glass window 10 feet away. The feeling of nostalgia draws you in. Your feet start walking towards this window

Preposition Writing – Cinque Terre

As I take a deep breath in, only then do I notice the crisp cleanness of the air, which catches me by surprise. Amongst the busyness of unpacking and getting settled in, I have forgotten to look outside and appreciate the beautiful surroundings.  Above the heater is a little retro window, with no curtains only white chunky blinds. As I walk over and pull them open the light from the blaring sun outside catches me by surprise. On the window is a ladybird, I open the latch to let her go, I watch as she flies out into the open air, stopping for a moment as if she is thanking me. Now the ladybird has flown out of sight, my eyes drift off into the ambiance.

On top of the rocks are many European women, basking in the rays of the sun. Next to them are jagged rocks, some 6 feet tall, which cast towering shadows around themselves. Above these shadows are men, sitting on top of their canoes, keeping a watchful eye over their women. On the side of the hill is a long windy road, cutting a path through the dense forest. Under the beauty of the centuries-old seaside villages lies a neglected tunnel, that once led a course to a now abandoned harbor. Without this harbor, the boats of the 19th centuries would have no one to park, but now a new, modern replacement has been put in place.

Under me a hear a door creak open, must be mama returning from the shop.

The Banned Word Challenge

The sun dips below the horizon, and as twilight fades the eerie dullness sets in.  As the clock strikes twelve the streets clear, only a few lights flicker. The white-speckles in the heavens gleam down on my face. I like duskiness, it hides everything, it leaves a blank canvas, emptying all expectations and imperfections. The celestial bodies look deep into my eyes, watching my every move. My doubts, thoughts, and uncertainness wander into obscurities.

Essay – Fate in Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet is considered to be one of William Shakespeare’s most popular plays. There are 27 operas based on the story, as well as ballets, jazz and modern music, musicals, movies, paintings and even a Twitter series. The play follows the journey of Romeo and Juliet as they fall in love and hide it from society, as their parents are fueding. Shakespeare used literature and language devices to convey the idea of fate. Their ambitious love ended up with the death of both of them. Shakespeare used fate in a way to leave the readers apprehensive, such as using the protagonists’ dreams and prophecies to foreshadow an event. He used dramatic irony, as because of the prologue we know the main events that occur, and we can pick up when the characters subconsciously refer to their outcome. Another practice W. Shakespeare used was creating a plot line and leaving the hands of the characters in ‘gods’ hands so that when one event occurs it snowballs and carries on to create a string of events to leave the reader in anticipation.

During the course of the tragedy, Romeo and Juliet have several dreams and many prophecies were made. Shakespeare uses dreams to inform the reader that something major in the plot is about to materialize. In the 1500’s it is believed that when something is dreamt, it becomes real, so Shakespeare used this to foreshadow events. “I dreamt my lady came and found me dead… and breath’d such life in my lips that I reviv’d and was an emperor.” Romeo dreamt that Juliet came and found him dead. Romeo dreamt this after he was banished from Verona. Sice Romeo has done a sin and is banished, he can never be an emperor on earth. The only place where he could with Juliet and be as powerful as an emperor is in Heaven. This dream gave more information then what was said in the prologue, hinting that Juliet finds Romeo deceased and decides to go to Heaven with him. Friar Lawrence said, “These violent delights have violent ends and in their triumph die like fire and powder, which as they kiss, consume.” This is saying that the rough love that Romeo and Juliet have for each other have just as rough ends, and he refers to their kisses as explosive. This is prophetic because he aligns the cataclysmic passion of Romeo and Juliet with the feud that kills with violence, Romeo, Juliet, Mercutio, Tybalt and Paris.

Dramatic irony was Shakespeare’s way of adding humor to the script. Dramatic irony is when the reader knows more or knows something that the characters do not. We have more insight that the characters about the play because of the prologue. The most important quote in the prologue is when it tells us that a pair of star-crossed lovers takes their own life which buries their parents strife. Lady Capulet states “I would the fool were married to her grave.”  She saying Juliet is a fool for not marrying Paris, because of this she wishes she was dead… therefore married to her grave. The dramatic irony in this is that in the end for Juliet a marriage is what actually killed her. In Act 2 scene 2 Juliet warns Romeo about their love. “Alack, there lies more peril in thine eye than twenty of their swords! Look thou but sweet, and I am proof against their enmity.” Romeo dismisses his warning. Juliet is saying that one bad look from Romeo would be worse then twenty of his families swords. She says look kindly at me and I will be invincible to their hatred. We know because of the prologue that they are doomed, and therefore she is referring to her fate of dying with Romeo.  The use of dramatic irony was everywhere in the play, as using dramatic irony added banter and playfulness to the sad story of Romeo and Juliet.

The fate of Romeo and Juliet were in the hands of a higher figure, God. In the 1500’s coincidences was usually referred to as an act of God, as most people in England practiced the Roman Catholic religion. God used Romeo and Juliet as his toys. Their fate, of dying together, was always going to occur, no matter what the path there was.  After the tragic death of Tybalt and Mercutio, Benvolio gives the news to Romeo that Prince Escales will most likely give him the death sentence if he is caught. Romeo says “Oh, I am fortune’s fool!” He is referring to the fact that he has no control over his destiny. The word fortune means chance as a higher force is affecting the human actions. The use of the word ‘fortune’ tells the audience that he recognizes the fact that he is being controlled by a higher force and he acknowledges that he has no control over that. God is controlling his life as there has been a turn of events that has sent Romeo’s life downhill. He places the responsibility of this on God. On the night of Capulet’s ball, Romeo says he has a funny feeling, that something is ‘hanging the stars’ (destined to happen) that night. “I fear, too early, for my mind misgives some consequence yet hanging in the stars shall bitterly begin his fearful date with this night’s revels, and expire the term by some vile forfeit of untimely death. But he hath the steerage of my course, direct my sail. ” Romeo was aware that he was not in control of what was going to happen that night. He says he has a bad feeling about the party, as it may spark the start of something bad that will end with his own death. He then announces that whoever is in charge of his life, steer him anywhere he wants. The use of sail refers back to the sea, as the sea can be seen as a vast empty space where, when sailing, you have no control over the path. He uses this word as in this stage of the play Romeo has no control over his course. He also makes a direct reference to God, saying that he can take his life where ever he wants to take it… and there he met the love of his life, Juliet.

William Shakespeare used many different language and literature devices to express the idea of fate in Romeo and Juliet. This essay shows how Shakespeare uses dramatic irony, acts of god and dreams and prophecies to convey fate to the reader. Examining Shakespeare’s tragedy showed how important it is to choose my words carefully.

Quote Analysis Act 3 Scene 5 Line 54 (Romeo and Juliet)

O, God, I have an ill-divining soul! – Juliet

This quote is Juliet talking about her soul, and how it makes bad things happen. Her mind predicts bad and evil things occurring. The word ill means suffering from an illness, a dark, horrible thing often causing death. Divining is associated with someone or something that has supernatural insight into the future. Put together this word means a dark, bad, dangerous thing that is destined to happen in the future. Her mind, her inner body, is destined to cause something bad to happen. I think this relates to the whole story because of everything in the play is dependent on fate, and they can’t control their ending.