Winifred's Reviews > The Reader

The Reader by Bernhard Schlink
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's review
Feb 10, 2011

did not like it
Read in February, 2011

I was very disappointed with this book, after all it had such great reviews and recommendations.

I started the book and for the first three chapters I thought I’d enjoy it. The prose was simple but it created very vivid pictures as Michael Berg relates the story of his illness and first meetings with Hanna. It was downhill all the way after that and for me the main reason was I couldn’t feel any empathy whatsoever with either of the two main characters. From the little we learn about them I felt they were cold, unemotional, selfish and detached. Michael for example hardly mentions his mother, he comments on this in the book.

The second part of the book becomes a much more philosophical read, Michael has now grown up and we see the theme of collective guilt over the Holocaust and how the different generations in Germany deal with it. Then we see Hanna being tried for war crimes and Michael observing the trial.

The novel raises questions but I never felt there were any answers. Well to be honest how can there be answers to such a horrendous theme as the Holocaust. However there were other questions which remained unanswered and were in the author’s power to resolve but for some reason he didn’t. Hanna’s so called secret wasn’t difficult to guess. However for Hanna’s final action, no answer was given or even hinted at.

The book evoked no real emotion from me other than frustration. It really should have given the fact that it was dealing with horrific war crimes. No tears, no sadness, no joy, no smiles. I kept waiting for answers which never materialised. I also felt I didn’t learn anything from this book which I feel is such a waste.
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