The Reader by Bernhard Schlink

The Reader The Reader by Bernhard Schlink
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This translation of a German novel about post-wartime Germany is engaging but ultimately left me with a feeling that it could have done more. Michael, a teenager, falls for an older woman in his neighborhood and she proceeds to satisfy his lust, playfully at first as though he is her boy toy. It develops into a real relationship of sorts, although Michael is not sure if she feels about him the way he does for her. When it stretches beyond a mere sexual relationship, they spend a weekend together. She likes his voice and asks him to read to her. He obliges. This continues for some time. Then one day she ends it cold. It turns out she has a secret. I’ll stop there to avoid spoilers.

I listened to the audiobook, which was well acted by the narrator. The translation is excellent, too. As I listened, I didn’t know it was a translated German novel, although I suspected it. The book is somewhat dark, but not overly so. I think it resonates better with Germans than it could with most Americans, including me. In the end, I felt lukewarm about it. There was a movie made of it, but I never saw the film.

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