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Josef's death

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Darlene I loved this book, but like you, I am confused.


Salem It was the one action in this book that I thought was untrue/unbelievable for the character. I think that killing Josef was not something that Sage would have done. It went against all that she is and just did not sit right for me.
I think that this one action has put her right back into that space she was in in the beginning of the book.Loved the book, but disagreed with the ending.


Carole P. Roman Was it murder or a mercy killing? If it was murder, she hadn't forgiven him. If it was a mercy killing, she did forgive him. Josef wanted to die, he was tired of living, he asked to her help him. The ultimate punishment was to let him live with the fear of dying with a final judgment hanging over his head. Picoult needed to end it that way, because of the twist. Sage "sinned" against society with her adulterous relationship. If we are all "sinners" ( this is not my opinion, just what I got from the book), who are any of us to judge another? Also, each person in the book was guilty of some sort of transgression- so are there degrees of "sinning"?


Stasha I struggle with deciding whether she killed him or he killed himself. Yes, she provided the "gun", but he was capable of choosing whether or not to pull the trigger--he wasn't the young kids in The Pact. He knew full well without emotion what he was doing. He did it. He could have opted not to use it. It isn't like she pulled the trigger. Also, how can he be redeemed for his actions when he did not reveal many of his crimes but those of another person? He left a lot about himself out, which I find more fascinating and fodder for another book. What was Franz doing in Josef's absence?


Ranell Carole wrote: "Was it murder or a mercy killing? If it was murder, she hadn't forgiven him. If it was a mercy killing, she did forgive him. Josef wanted to die, he was tired of living, he asked to her help him. T..."

I couldn't have said it better!!! I agree.


Susan Van ling I think like an outrageous piece of contemporary art this ending has got us all talking. Well done J P I say, she achieved what others can only dream of, the ability to make many people discuss the words she has written. Great book, thought provoking topic, interesting characters and shocking (for me) ending. Well done, well done.


message 7: by Wulfenia (new)

Wulfenia I am disappointed by the ending (they are generally a weak point with Jodi Picoult's books that I love a lot).

It would have been perfect to have Sage consider baking the poison food, have Leo and Sage find Josef dead in the morning and leave it ambiguous whether Sage decided to do it or not.


Athirah Janice wrote: "Sage says to Josef as he is dying that she will never forgive him. The only one who could have forgiven Josef for his past was Sage's grandmother because she was his victim. Josef could have taken ..."

You...are right. You are absolutely right.

(a bit of spoiler down below to those who have not read or completed the book)

It was a bit of a shock when Sage discovered Josef wasn't really who he said he was. Because as I was reading the book I seperated the two brothers into two different sections; one is good, the other is bad/ oblivious to the fact his actions were bad. When the realisation hit me that it was the younger brother all along and that he himself felt guilt for killing his brother, and maybe for the people whom his older brother had killed, too. Maybe the younger brother thought that if Sage killed him, it would somehow be an apology, from both him and his older brother.

I'm not sure. What do you think?


message 9: by Deb (new) - rated it 4 stars

Deb Lynch I really liked where the author left us. Sage has basically lied to Leo. If their relationship is to continue, she is going to have to eventually tell him the truth. Will he forgive her?


message 10: by Deb (new) - rated it 4 stars

Deb Lynch There's a lot more to this story than the author has given us. I would be interested in hearing Josef's story from his perspective. After all, he knew who he was dealing with. How did he get there? Did he follow Sage's grandmother? What happened after he watched his brother die? What did he mean when he said he should have died many times, but didn't?

Also, does Josef say, "Where does it end?", or does he say, "What happens next?" I feel like he said the latter. I listened to this book on audio, so I don't have a copy handy to look it up.


message 11: by Jean (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jean Deb and Janet, I just finished this book two days ago. I have been mulling over the ending since then. I may change my mind. These are my initial thoughts.

I see "How does it end?" as just your first clear clue that Josef is Franz and not Reiner. I've read 3 Jodi Picoult's in a row and because of this, I already believed that Josef was going to end up being Franz rather than Reiner. I thought there was enough foreshadowing in the vampire story to show that.

Also "How does it end?" can mean how do we move past this horrible event if there is no forgiveness and no way to forgive? I ultimately see this as a book about forgiveness. Sage needs to forgive herself through much of the book. Sage sees herself as unforgivable. Josef wants forgiveness. Minka is a very forgiving character who often manages to see good in the Germans she meets. Leo is about justice and how justice is not forgiveness.

I think the author's reason to have you believe you're listening to Reiner when you're really listening to Franz are two fold:
(1) "I'm Jodi Picoult! I gotta have a surprise in there!"
(2) The reader is tricked into seeing Josef as a fairly stereotypically bad Nazi when he's maybe a bit more complicated than that. You can rationalize "If my country were taken over by bad people, I might feel forced to participate, but I'd do what I could just like the Franz character. I wouldn't be as evil as Reiner. Reiner is unforgivable."
And then after the reveal, you are forced to re-evaluate Franz. Is Franz also unforgivable?

For more than a year now, way before I picked up this book, I've been contemplating the statement that "All it takes for evil to win is for good men to do nothing." When I first heard this as a child, I thought yes, this is so obviously true. Wipe my hands. Problem solved. But for the past year, I've wondered: What is the good man supposed to do? What is good? What is bad? When Franz was harboring his Nazi friend, he was told he was being bad. When Franz was doing his job in the concentration camp he was told he was being good. We forget that part. Obviously, a person must have his own moral compass but when we're taught to conform and that conforming is a form of goodness(*), it may not be so easy to recognize when it is time for you to stand against the crowd and be a good guy. And even when you know it is time, how do you do it? What is the "something" you are supposed to do? Is it stand firm on the ground, disobey orders, and get shot? Or is it do what you can within the system, which is what Franz did? Frankly, I tend to pick the latter, and it makes me wonder about myself.

(*) = I am 50 and I grew up in the Midwest. I was literally taught that conformity is good.

Is Franz forgivable? I have not decided. Should Sage have killed him? I'm also not sure. I believe Sage killed him as an attempt to forgive him, but she's struggling with that decision, which is why she tells him she will never forgive him. She wants to forgive but also does not want to give him what he wants. Should Leo forgive Sage? I hope he does, but I'm not sure she deserves forgiveness for killing Josef.

Another read of Josef's final words is that all this time he has only wanted to find Minka and hear the end of the story. I have considered and rejected this idea. First off, he's a grown man. He knows some stories don't end. Second off, he's written his own endings. He just hasn't decided which is the correct ending. We, like Josef, have to decide which is the correct ending. Not to Minka's story, but to Josef's.

OK, I have had nobody to discuss this book with; hence the long post with all of my deep thoughts. Thanks for reading it!


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