With a critically-acclaimed movie to immortalize its appeal, little needs to be said of the quality of ‘The Reader’ as a story. While the first 40 pages of the book might be viewed as its low-point- there’s too much coverage given to the boy’s relationship with Hannah and the carnal pleasure both of them gained from it (there’s nothing pleasantly erotic about a 15-year-old boy with raging hormones having regular intercourse with a woman old enough to be his mother); the way the story developed in the subsequent parts of the novel is its saving grace. It is a riveting tale of forgiveness. It gives the perpetrators of Holocaust, represented by Hannah, a human face. While the novel didn’t change the reader’s perception of Holocaust as a dark humanitarian tragedy and the evil nature of its perpetrators, it provides us with an insight of the emotional pain and self-hatred stemmed from the feeling of guilt for being a direct or indirect complicit of such an atrocity, the feeling prevalent among the Germans who lived in the postwar years. Human beings, no matter how cunning, how atrocious, how heartless, are human, capable of feeling guilt, and to a degree, remorse. This is exactly where Schlink, as a writer, found triumph- I finally see that the Auschwitz guards are actually human too; just like me and you. What makes them differ from us is the misjudgments that they made, which resulted in their despicable actions.
In the case of Holocaust, the misjudgments resulted in a disaster, and that we are all aware of.
4/5* (Very good read)