The Reader is about a 15-year old boy, Michael, who becomes sick on his way home from school. As he's crouched on the side of the road, an older neighbor, Hanna notices him and takes him to her apartment to help him. A few weeks later, he returns to her apartment to thank her for being so kind. A friendship ensues... which eventually turns into more than a friendship. Hanna is tempermental and secretive. Michael can't seem to figure her out, but he's falling into the grips of a near obsession with the mysterious Hanna. She seems to be hiding something. Something big. Suddenly, one day Hanna disappears. Michael moves on with his life and the memory of Hanna fades. Years pass and Michael becomes a law student. He ends up observing a court case with a defendant that is none other than his long-lost lover, Ms. Hanna. Finally some of the questions that Michael had about Hanna are answered.
The good: Interesting glimpse of post-Nazi Germany. Honestly, that's all I've got for the GOOD.
The bad: This book gave me the creeps. First of all, why the heck is a 30-something year old woman messing around with a 15 year old kid? Eww. Secondly, talk about an anti-climax. After all the build-up I was honestly let down by Hanna's "deep dark secret." Without giving it away, let's just say that whatever you're probably imagining by this point in the book is WAY worse than what it actually is. Don't get me wrong, Miss Hanna did some dirty deeds in her day... but the "secret" ends up just letting you down.
The verdict: I struggled to get through The Reader. It wasn't Schlink's writing at all. He's a great writer. My problem was the characters. I found myself thinking that the boy was mostly annoying. I found Hanna boring and was frustrated by the minimal glimpse into her personality. She was flat. By the end of the book I had little attachement to either of them and was just happy to have finished the book without quitting it.