The Forgotten Shelf is a monthly feature created by LadyBlueJay. This feature highlights the books that have been left on my bookshelf to collect dust. On the last Sunday of each month I will review a book from this specific shelf.
The Reader by Bernhard Schlink is an interesting read to say the least. I did enjoy the first part of the book, but towards the end it kind of tapered off. I ended up not finishing the book.
I am not sure where I obtained this book originally. I know I grabbed a copy from the bookstore before/after the movie came out a few years ago. I think I may have been in high school at the time. Regardless, when I first bought this book I was young. Back then starting this book was hard for me because of the heavy subjects and themes that occurred within the book. Adultery, war, and war crimes are just a few of the heavy topics brought up in this book. Back then, I thought all that stuff was pretty boring and uninteresting so I never finished the book. Fast forward a couple of years and I have changed my opinion slightly, but the book is still unfinished.
Here is short synopsis from Goodreads:
When he falls ill on his way home from school, fifteen-year-old Michael Berg is rescued by Hanna, a woman twice his age. In time she becomes his lover—then she inexplicably disappears. When Michael next sees her, he is a young law student, and she is on trial for a hideous crime. As he watches her refuse to defend her innocence, Michael gradually realizes that Hanna may be guarding a secret she considers more shameful than murder.
There are three parts to this book.
The first part of this book went by really fast. I woke up around 6:30 one morning and by 9 am I was nearly done with Part One. Part One was action packed, not in terms of fighting or plot twists, but rather the sequence of events. I believe that is one of the reasons it went by so fast.
The story is told through Michael’s POV and therefore we as the reader know his thoughts, feelings, etc. But, we are still able to “see” how Hanna and Michael interact, where they go, etc. In Part Two all you get is Michael’s play by play of the Hanna’s trial, the details her the crime she apparently committed, and his musings about the war. This is where the story tapered off for me. I am not a huge history buff (you can ask my fiancée). And I certainly can’t sit through reading about history.Nothing in Part Two caught my interest well enough to continue reading.
What struck me as beautiful with this novel is the authors writing. Schlink writes short, to the point sentences and descriptions that almost remind me of Hemingway’s terse, journalistic style. They both get straight to the point, but add a few flourish here and there. The characters were interesting. I hope to read more at a later date so I can give a more in depth review of the book and it’s details.
Maybe someday I will pick it up again, but now this particular book is going back on The Forgotten Shelf.
The Short n Sweet Version
If you like history and are really into World War II and literary books, I would suggest this book to you. It is a really quick read and very well written. But, if you are like me and don’t like historical novels, I would suggest you not read this book.