“It was one of the pictures of Hanna that has stayed with me. I have them stored away, I can project them on a mental screen and watch them, unchanged, unconsumed.” -Michael Berg, The Reader

I admit again that this book rested for a year under my bookshelves and to think that I let that book be forgotten and forget that this is not mine at all. Heh. This belongs to my friend, Racelyn. I borrowed it last year [during her birthday celebration] along with Robert Fulghum’s All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten [which also sleeps on my TBR pile]. But finally, after reading Augusten Burroughs’ Running with Scissors and David Sedaris’ Me Talk Pretty One Day – who are bookshelves’ mates with this book, I picked up this book. I’ve been longing to read this one but every time I pick it up, other books lure me to read them so I ended up putting this back to the shelf.

The Reader is written by a German law professor and judge Bernhard Schlink which is published in Germany and translated to English in USA by Carol Brown Janeway.

[Spoiler Alert]

I warned you. I don’t want to ruin the surprise.

This is about a fifteen-year old kid named Michael Berg who was ill with hepatitis at that time. On the way to his home from his school,  he met a beautiful woman who saved him after throwing up at street and washed him up. Her name is Hanna, a woman twice his age. He meets with her every day during school, after school and then became her lover. He loves her so much but sometimes he is puzzled with Hanna’s silence or outrage. He always surrenders first when they argue. He reads books, poems to her before they made love. He always long for her presence, her body, her scent. But then, she disappeared without trace. He don’t know how to fill the void, how to look for her but in time, the longing disappeared. The next time he met Hanna is when Michael is a law student while she is on court trial for a crime [former Runic "↯↯" guard at Auschwitz]. He watch her fall apart and not defend herself on this and discovered the shame that hinders Hanna to save herself.

Both of them are guilty. Michael is guilty for betraying Hanna [for many reasons – for not telling someone about her, for marrying other woman, for loving a criminal] and Hanna is guilty of crimes she committed. I am moved by the fact that Michael did loved this woman. Even for after 18 years of Hanna’s imprisonment, he still gone back and helped her but too bad, Hanna ended her life before she is released. Which gave Michael numbness and more guilt.

“My longing for Hanna became so strong that it hurt. I struggled against the longing, argued that it went against Hanna’s and my reality, the reality of our ages, the reality of our circumstances.”

I don’t know how am I going to express what much I feel for this book. It’s just moving. It speak straight to the heart.

My drawback on this book: I got lost sometimes on some parts, especially when it is about post WWII war and Germany’s history which I totally lack. I only have limited knowledge about the Third Reich and the Nazis [So I’m leaving the views about the horrors of that because I might not express myself well on this]. But overall, this is a masterpiece. People should read this.

Books #46 for 2010

The Reader by Bernhard Schlink [translated by Carol Brown Janeway]

Bookmarks: 3.5/4

This entry was published on 18.10.10 at 3:09 pm. It’s filed under In Which I Write About Books and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

4 thoughts on ““It was one of the pictures of Hanna that has stayed with me. I have them stored away, I can project them on a mental screen and watch them, unchanged, unconsumed.” -Michael Berg, The Reader

  1. Hi Tricia!

    Stumbled upon your blog on the Filipino Book Bloggers.
    What a nice blog you got here, keep it up!
    I also fell in love with this book. I agree with that this is a masterpiece and that everyone should read this.
    Dark nights and creepy wonders! ;)
    Here are my thoughts about this book on my blog:

  2. wow. gotta include this on my reading list since I like reading books about the Holocaust. :)

  3. ivanbookworm on said:

    I watched the movie not yet done with the book. But either of the two, they are both master piece. Yes it was not a young adult book but it really interest me. Especially when Hannah sacrifice to be in prison just for the everybody not to know she is illiterate. I was very sad when Hannah died. I didn’t expect it. I thought he would live until her golden age with Michael visiting her and reading books but the opposite happened

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