Feb 10, 2010

The Reader

The Reader by Bernhard Schlink

My rating: 4 stars

Quick overview: When he falls ill on his way home from school, fifteen-year-old Michael Berg is rescued by Hanna, a woman twice his age. In time she becomes his lover. She enthralls him with her passion, but puzzles him with her odd silences. Then she inexplicably disappears.

When Michael next sees her, he is a young law student and Hanna is on trial for a hideous crime. But as he watches her refuse to defend herself, Michael gradually realizes that his former lover may be guarding a secret she considers more shameful than murder. (From back of book cover)

I liked this book. However, this is not an easy book to read. I had to be able to separate the topics that were hard to read about (like a thirty-something woman in a relationship with a fifteen-year-old boy), and know that that was not why I liked the book.

I liked this book because it was very thought-provoking. Here are a few quotes from the book that had me thinking.

"Sometimes the memory of happiness cannot stay true because it ended unhappily." (Pg. 37)

"But love of our parents is the only love for which we are not responsible." (Pg. 170)

The writing was also incredible. For instance:

"I asked her about her life, and it was as if she rummaged around in a dusty chest to get me the answers." (Pg. 39)

In some books the storyline builds to a climax at the end. While there definitely are a few twists throughout the plot, it flows along well, but there's no "smoking gun" at the end, and I think that's also one of the reasons I liked it so much.

It brought up thoughts about kids and eventually being a mother as well for me. Maybe it's just because I've been watching a lot of Law & Order: SVU lately, but I was angry at certain points in the story because this thirty-something year old woman was having a relationship with a fifteen-year-old, and she kinda screws him up for life. She's wrong, but isn't he as well? These were the kinds of thoughts that were going through my head, along with "oh my gosh, how do parents protect their kids from this?"

The fact that I'm still thinking about this book so much after I'm completely finished reading it, tells me it's good. I'd recommend it.

Have any of you read this? What did you think? (Up next, A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray).

(Photo: say anything)


Anonymous said...

I have not read this book yet but your review has enticed me to do so. I think I will order a copy on Amazon right away. This seems like the kind of book that I enjoy reading. I just picked up a copy of "Reading Lolita in Tehran" Have you read this one?


Hannah Katy

Becky said...

@ Hannah Katy - let me know what you think of it! Reading Lolita in Tehran is one of my "pick 10 for 2010" books - I haven't started it yet though!

Amber from Girl with the Red Hair said...

Haven't read the book but I saw the movie and REALLY liked it. Have you watched the movie?

Becky said...

@ Amber - I haven't watched the movie but I want to now. I'm a strict "read the book first" kind of person! But I heart Kate Winslet so hopefully it's good!

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

I also loved this book, as you know from my goodreads.com comment. It definitely made me think! It was very disturbing though - I tried watching the movie, but seeing the relationship played out was just too much for me and I had to shut it off...

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