I finished reading The Reader by Berhnard Schlink tonight. I have to admit, I’d had great hopes for this book ~ surely there had to be a reason that it was made into a movie, which has been nominated for 5 Oscars & has been the winner of 6 awards & 19 further nominations.
If the movie is closely based on the book, then I really don’t understand the hype & why all the awards? Don’t get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this book, but there’s nothing overtly special about it either. It was easy to read, I sailed through it (it is only 216 pages, though), but it didn’t really engage me. It should have been a book that provoked a response, some kind of emotion, but no, nothing.
This is a book about a man who had a sexual relationship with a woman who was old enough to be his mother, when he was 15 years old. The relationship ends suddenly when Hanna disappears one sunny summer day & Michael is left to wonder if the reason she left was because of him, because of his perceived betrayal of Hanna.
Michael spends the rest of his teen years & young adulthood trying, but not succeding in recovering from the effect their relationship had on him as a person & subsequently on how he behaved in further relationships, both intimate & not. Michael neither sees nor hears anything of Hanna until he is a law student sent to observe a trial & discovers that Hanna is one of the defendants on trial. The remainder of the book deals with the trial & what the trial does to Hanna & ultimately to Michael.
I think that Mr. Schlink could have done so much more with this book – it would have been brilliant to have had the story told from 2 people’s perspectives – Michael & Hanna’s instead of just Michael’s. He missed, in my opinion, a lot of opportunities to make this story SO much better. All in all, not a bad book, but not great either, not like it could have been. I wouldn’t dissuade someone from reading this book, but then I wouldn’t recommend it either. Too many missed opportunities!