The Reader
by Bernhard Schlink
Book Review by Amy Coffin
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I have a list I keep of books I'd like to read sometime. If a book's author or subject matter interests me, I'll jot down the title and read it when it becomes available at the library.

This week, The Reader by Bernhard Schlink caught my eye. After reading it, I am not quite sure why the book was on my "To Read" list.

Part one of The Reader examines the love affair between fifteen year-old Michael and thirtysomething Hanna. Their relationship ends when Hanna abruptly disappears.

When they meet again many years later, Hanna is on trial and Michael is an observer at that trial. It is during these proceedings that Michael learns the truth about Hanna's past.

The Reader was originally written in German and translated into English. I found the characters, settings, and events to be quite distant. I am wondering if the translation had anything to do with this observation. Michael and Hanna's affair seemed cold and unemotional to me. The trial's contents were matter-of-fact, instead of sorrowful and tragic. Did you ever read Orwell's 1984? This book felt like that book: cold and distant. Could the characters' feelings and emotional growth have been lost in the translation?

I'll admit it....I didn't understand The Reader. I debated writing a review on such a book. In the end, I decided than my confused voice counted for something.

I am glad I read this book. It would make a good topic for discussion in an informal book club. Perhaps a group discussion is exactly what I need to comprehend The Reader.


Note: this is an old review and it shows. My writing is not at its best. However, my overall reaction to the book is clear, so I kept it in the collection. I hope you find it helpful. - A.


 
Note: The Reader was a 1999 selection of Oprah's Book Club.
Lord only knows why. Blech.