Thursday, April 7, 2011

Book review: The Reader

I had started reading this book four different times before I started it again this time.  The difference this time was that 1) I had seen the movie so I knew how the book ended 2) I knew that I wanted to read it and 3) I listened to it instead of actually reading it.  The book is really interesting because it is split up into three parts that were extremely different.

Part one describes the relationship between Michael and Hannah.  Michael is a young high school students and Hannah is a streetcar conductor.  They meet one day and begin an extremely passionate romance.  A few weeks or months into their romance, Hannah has Michael start to read the books that he is studying in school aloud tto her every time that they meet.  They continue this pattern of reading and spending time together until one day Hannah disappears without telling Michael where she is going or why she is leaving.

I give away parts of the plot in the rest of the review so you may not want to keep reading!

Part two describes the next time they meet.  Michael is a law student who is participating in a seminar on the concentration camps.  As part of that seminar, the students observe a trial of some of the Nazis who worked at Auschwitz.  One of those Nazis is Hannah.  The Nazi women are being tried for an instance after the death march of the prisoners from Auschwitz where they locked the women they were caring for in a church that later caught on fire during a bombing. The other Nazis pin this on Hannah.  While observing the trial, Michael realizes that Hannah does not know how to answer the questions that are posed to her in court because she has not been able to read the materials for the trial.  He puts the pieces together and figures out that she is illiterate.  If she had revealed this, which she does not, she could have gotten off with a less severe punishment than the life in prison she is sentenced to.

Part three describes the time that Hannah spends in prison after she is sentenced and the way that Michael maintains their connection by taping himself reading books and then sending them to her.  The warden at the prison tells Michael that this is Hannah's only connection to the outside world.  I won't tell you the ending, since I've already given away much of the plot.

This is one of the few instances where the movie that was made from the book was as good, if not better, than the book.  Most of that has to do with the casting of Kate Winslet as Hannah.  She does an amazing job.  As she always does with the roles she plays.  If you are considering reading the book or watching the movie, I would definitely recommend it.  It gives you an interesting view on the Holocaust.

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