Book Discussion Questions: The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult

The Storyteller Book CoverTitle: The Storyteller
Author: Jodi Picoult
Page Count: 460 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Tone:  Somber, Multiple Perspectives

Summary:
Becoming friends with Josef Weber, an old man who’s particularly loved in her community, Sage Singer is shocked when one day he asks her to kill him and reveals why he deserves to die, causing her question her beliefs–and to wonder if his request would be murder or justice.

SPOILER WARNING:
These book discussion questions are highly detailed and will ruin plot points if you have not read the book.

Questions composed by MPPL Staff

The Library is happy to share these original questions for your use. If reproducing, please credit with the following statement:  2015 Mount Prospect Public Library. All rights reserved. Used with Permission.

1. Did you find any humor in The Storyteller? If yes—do think that’s okay?

2. How did the multiple narrators work for you? Why did Picoult choose to write the story this way?

3. When did you realize the story about Ania was Minka’s story? How did adding this fictional story add or subtract to the overall narrative?

4. Sage’s story starts in therapy in which the attendees are comparing the amount of loss (loss of dog vs. loss of husband). Why do you think Picoult started the book like that? How does that set the tone?

5. Why does Picoult wait so long to tell us how Sage’s mom died?

6. What do you think about Adam?

7. “The reason it’s important to believe in something is because you can.” How do you agree or disagree? Does Sage have more pressure to pursue the Jewish faith because of her grandmother?

8. Why do you think Sage destroyed the Jesus loaf and baked all the challah?

9. When Sage learns about Weber she starts wanting more out of Adam. Why? (pg. 99)

10. If Sage kills Weber, she’s no better than him. (pg. 165) Do you think that’s true? Does Weber asking her to kill him change anything?

11. Does Sage have the right to forgive Weber?

12. The whole time Josef is telling his story, he is pretending to be his brother. Does this change how you see the real Reinner? As a result, does Reinner seem more or less sympathetic? More sympathetic? What about Franz?

13. When did you realize Weber was pretending to be Reinner? Why would he pretend?

14. Franz gives Reinner forgiveness for the mouse. Why?

15. Does Reiner trying to commit suicide change how you see his character? (pg. 166)

16. Why does Minka decide to tell her story to Leo? (pg.191)

17. How was Minka able to survive?

18. “The bigger the hole inside you, the more desperate you become to fill it.” (pg. 230) Is this true for any of the characters? Minka? Her family?

19. Herr Fassbender was a part of the system. Was he any better than Franz?

20. In the end was Minka’s nephew’s death more tragic? Less?

21. How did Franz save Minka?

22. What do you think Minka would have done/how would she have reacted to reuniting with Franz?

23. “If my grandmother could reinvent herself, why not Joseph Weber?” (pp. 67)Is there a difference? Does Josef have the right to reinvent himself?

24. Why did Sage decide to kill Weber?

25. Was it right for Sage to lie to Leo about killing Weber?

26. How do the last few sentences of The Storyteller represent the book?

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OTHER RESOURCES:

Discussion Questions from Jewish Book Council
Lit Lovers’ Discussion Questions
German Auschwitz radio operator charged with accessory to murder
The story behind The Storyteller
USA Today 
review

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