Reader reviews and comments on The Reader, plus links to write your own review.

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The Reader

By Bernhard Schlink

The Reader
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Hardcover: Mar 1999,
    218 pages.
    Paperback: Mar 1999,
    218 pages.

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There are currently 30 reader reviews for The Reader
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CC (12/04/11)

THE READER REVIEW
it was an interesting read, totally unexpected that a 15 year old boy and 38 year old woman would get in to a relationship and have daily sexual practices like their baths, and their nightly sleeps together. The way that a 15 year old boy cared for a 38 year old woman, who did not care much for him, was extraordinary. In this book, the truth benefits not only the personal relationship of both of them, but also the good of all people.
Claudia (09/10/10)

The hidden symbolism in The Reader
Marvelous book! Interesting that no review picked up on the incredible symbolism that the author wove into the story. If Hanna was first generation Germany, and Michael represented the second generation, post-war children, it fits very well. Hanna committed a heinous crime by abusing an underage child, one that was seriously sick at that. She was self centered, indulgent and yet was ashamed of being illiterate, not of murdering innocent people or taking advantage of a child sexually. This story had nothing to do with love!

Michael's continual references to Hanna's back as the key feature that attracted him----strong and reliable, broad----said that he was a child looking for more than sex, he was looking for protection and dependability from adults. At the trial, he describes how he sat behind Hanna and decoded her back, i.e., she sat straight, pulled her shoulders up around her neck (protectively), and never shook her head at accusations, never flinched.

Because of Germany's continual pride, the World never heard her ask the Jews for forgiveness for the massive crime in which they were complicit. Germans even allowed the SS guards and magistrates to live among them after 1945 when the War was over and the concentration camps began unfolding their excruciating secrets. The author did the most provocative thing he could do when he called Hanna (Germany) illiterate; after all UNESCO defined Germany as the most literate, cultured modern society of their day because of the origins of the printing press and printing of the first Bible, giving their country the advantage of available reading material long before the rest of the World.

And so when Hanna says to the judge at her trial, "what would you have done?", we hear Germany still saying today that they didn't know what was going on around them in the camps----"after all, there was a war going on"----but the second generation Michaels in that very country are numb and ruined because they were violated by grown adults who wouldn't stand up in the midst of the horror. Bravo, Mr. Schlink!
lynn (08/07/10)

Fire Survivors
I just wanted to answer the question posed by a previous reviewer who asked how the two women survived when there was no visible escape route from the inferno in the church. They climbed up into the gallery where they hid until the fire was extinguished and they could leave surreptitiously . They fled through the village without being noticed by the guards who thought everyone inside the church had burned to death.
Dakota Shelton (04/22/10)

This book is great
This book is great!! I am a sophomore on high school and my teacher recommenced it to me. And I am glad that she did, because it is the best book I have ever read. The boy Micheal is the greatest kid lots of manners and all. And Hanna is a nice Woman with a lot of character. I love this book and I recommend it to anyone who likes to read. It will keep you interested you will not want to put it down.
Chuck (05/13/09)

One question that loses me
Thought it was excellent. Kept my attention but still needs a question to be answered. Woman who talked to the Judges told of the church. Beams on fire and doors locked. All died except her. How did she escape? Was she really in church or outside an telling what she believed to be true?
Arianna (04/24/09)

The Reader
This is one of the best books I have ever read. My friend told me to read it. At first I was getting confused, but then I fell in love with it!!
Rae (03/27/09)

Distance
I found "The Reader" to be fascinating.There were several themes in the storyline. Obviously, postwar Germany and the retributions of the Holocaust. Older woman having a sexual relationship with a young teenager. A teenage life affected by a secret relationship.

Hannah has a secret past and disability which cripples her to the point where she tries to keep an emotional distance from her lover and the people around her

The teenager has this love affair with Hannah which he must keep secret from everyone. He keeps himself at a distance from his contemporary friends and later with his wife and daughter. He divorces his wife and never marries again.

The ending seemed so real. It was perfect.

Gave readers a lot to think about in terms of relationships.
Ronnie King (12/29/08)

The Reader
Whilst one cannot deny that the content of The Reader by Bernhard Schlink is certainly emotive and tragic, I find myself still asking the question - is it really a good book? I feel it lacks both the descriptive detail and the atmosphere which should go with such a harrowing story. I find the style too disruptive to its intentions. The sentences and content are far to stripped and the story lacks any real imagination. It reports too much and it is this which hinders any developed notion of post war Germany. Sorry, I just didn't buy it. Too much style too little content.
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