The Reader by Bernhard Schlink [Book Review]

the-reader1Title : The Reader

Author : Bernhard Schlink

ISBN : 9780375408267

Publisher : Vintage Books

Genre : Historical Fiction

Pages : 218

Source : Self

Rating : 5 stars

It’s not always that I finish a book and stare at my surroundings while still pondering should I exclaim “Wow” or try to decipher why I am sad. It’s not always that I go numb for a while after finishing the book and a particular character keep hitting my head like a hammer on the nail.

Michael is 15 year old and one day on his way to school he falls sick and is rescued by Hannah, a 36 year old street car conductor. What follows is a sensual encounter between the two and both continue a furtive courtship full of passion, intense love-making, vacations and romance. Michael becomes bewitched by Hana and falls in love with her but her silences perturbs him. She keeps mum about her past life and is hardly ever seen in public. She asks Michael to read to her and they spend much time with books- Michael reading her popular German classics. One day Hannah disappears without any trace or explanation. Life moves on and Michael joins law school. He is supposed to attend a trial as a part of his course, where he sees Hannah again. She is being tried for a hideous crime but it doesn’t take Michael to realize that during the trial, through her obscure arguments having various loopholes, her momentary blank stares and her peculiar silence, she is trying to guard a secret- a secret about herself that she doesn’t want anyone to know, which Michael is soon to find out.

“The Reader” is a hard-hitting tale of passion, love, guilt and a meditation on choices one makes in life. The story has mention of holocaust and it takes place in Post-war Germany and you might want to step in the shoes of someone who has been through the tragic era to actually understand Hannah’s behavior and her secret.

The book, towards the end, will also leave you wondering- wondering about who was right and who was wrong or if no one was right or wrong and it was just circumstances cunningly setting things the way they came out to be.

Buy yourself a copy from Amazon here

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