The Reader by Bernhard Schlink
Another $1 purchase from the library’s used book sale, noticed because of the recent movie. Unfortunately, after purchasing it but before reading it, the first two lines of a movie review spoiled this book’s secret for me. It’s impossible for me to say whether not knowing the secret would have let me enjoy the book more. Would I have figured it out anyway?
This book exudes the very numbness it describes other books as having – the numbness of surviving. Numbness creates distance, and writing about a past generation that is writing about a past generation’s numbness makes this book so distant as to be almost frozen. I skated entirely over the icy surface of all the unanswered questions in this book and wasn’t able to read any deeper.
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.