Friday, April 15, 2011

ReView of 'The Reader' by Bernhard Schlink

Historical Fiction - 218pgs
Pantheon (first published 1995)

One of the most striking features of this book is that you cannot put it down once you start it.  It takes you in immediately.  As I was reading this book, I felt a profound bond to the underlying text of the story.  The story itself is about post-WWII after-effects of the Nazi concentration camps intertwined with love and loss.  The underlying text of the story, on the other hand, has much to do with every possible human element all of us encounter at one point or another in our lives.  I cannot relate to the actual story in any way.  I can, however, relate to almost all underlying elements that makes our human existence unravel.

This book is a journey of childhood, sickness, love, loss, mortal confusion, a sense of belonging, literacy, imprisonment and prosecution, family bonds, dignity and freedom, guilt and pride.... It is everything and anything you can possibly think of.  It is one of the richest novels I have come across.  It is not only the richest novels but also the most gray of novels.  The author very often poses questions with no immediate answers.  Questions arise because of so many gray areas.  It is quite rare to read a page without at least one question on it.  So not only do you find yourself in the richness of topics, but you also find yourself pondering about everything and anything.  It is an active journey in every aspect of reading.  It provokes you to be involved in the story while you are reading it as well as after you have finished reading, thinking of all the unanswered questions.

I was touched by this story.  The character's lives intersect at a moment of vulnerability and compassion and it presents them with a lifelong setting for love, loss, and confusion.  He finds himself transformed by a woman he barely knows.  Their unexpected and inevitable departure from each other seems all the more a yearning to reach for each other.  I found it so powerful that the two times their lives intersect happen merely by chance: the first because he gets sick in the alley, and the second time in the courtroom that he happens to in for his law school involvement.  The Universe seems to bring them together and yet they could never work out.  All of the dynamic interactions, together and apart, touch the very soul of the reader in really ambiguous ways.  Their intersections were short-lived, but the impact they had on each other's hearts and souls lasted their whole entire lifetimes.  Very powerful!.  I was truly touched.

This is a book with so much wisdom, yet filled with so many unanswered questions.  I recommend this book to anyone who's looking for more in life, who's reaching out to find more meaning to life, who's wondering whether they are alone in who they are and what they feel from their relationships with other people. It is truly a book that will enlighten you, a book that you'll forever cherish and will look back on for meaning and wisdom.

Bookserk by Author

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Bookserk Globally

Bookserk by Publishing House

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