Jenn Flynn-Shon's Reviews > The Reader

The Reader by Bernhard Schlink
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's review
Mar 08, 2012

liked it
Read in March, 2012

** spoiler alert ** the writing was just light enough to carry me through fairly quickly but the subject matter was heavy enough that it kept me from flinging right off the page. Kind of a Goldilocks "just right" thing going on with this one where that balance was concerned.

The beginning of the book kind of creeped me out but as Michael continued his relationship with Hanna, obviously falling in love with her, I started to wonder if I was more put off by 1) the age difference, 2) that he lied & told her he was really older, 3) that she would've been interested in a child to begin with or 4) my own Americanized way of thinking about age differences.

The fact that she called him "kid" throughout didn't help to set my skeevy feelings aside.

Part two started a little weird for me. I think Schlink tried to conceal what had happened, why Hanna was on trial to begin with, a little too aggressively. When the secret was revealed I found myself wishing he had just put it out there from the start. In part one it was always just in your face so that kind of threw me off.

When Michael went to visit Hanna at the prison and it was as if they just flowed, still, after all those years, I was once again kind of creeped out. The fact that she would let him do all that stuff for her on the outside then just kill herself with no real explanation as to why, seemed unjustified to the story. She didn’t strike me as a character who just gave up like that and all of her secrecy was eventually revealed in the trial. So when she did that it felt like a convenient way to get Michael to the daughter’s house. I didn’t completely buy it.

It hit me that the main character seemed detached the entire book, even in part one when he was allegedly completely involved he kind of seemed to be floating above the story. At the end when Schlink said something about writing the story a zillion times in his (the character’s) head I resolved to the fact that the main character was just re-telling from that place of numbness he talked about & I accepted that.

I applaud Schlink for maintaining the voice throughout even though the subject matter varied wildly from part to part. I also felt somewhat in the story as opposed to an outside observer so that was cool. Overall it was a really quick read, I was done in 2 days which is fast for me, but I wasn’t left with any strong feelings either way. I didn’t hate it but didn’t love it either.

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