The Reader has gained great popularity with it's Oscar winning film adaptation from the past year. However, Bernhard Schlink's book has been out in the book world for over ten years.
Unfortunately I never knew the book existed until after I watched the film of The Reader. I found the movie breathtaking and meaningful in ways that I wasn't sure I could explain. Discovering that it was a book excited me and I felt a little guilty. Generally, I try to read the book before I see the movie adaptation.
It's taken me nearly a year to actually go and buy the book. A poor paying job and being unemployed kind of put a damper in my acquiring a copy of the book. But finally, I had it in my hands and my manager pointed out that it was the only book she's read in which the movie was nearly the same exact thing.
I opened up the book and began to read it a few days ago and quickly was enraptured in it. It's beautiful in it's simplicity and depth of morals. Disturbing and thought provoking the story is narrated by the character Michael who as a boy meets and falls in love with a woman by the name of Hanna who he has an affair with.
The affair does not last long but the affects of it continues through Michael's life and reappears in his future. First when he is in college as a law student and she is placed on trial for a terrible crime, and later on when he is a grown adult.
The book brings forth the question of what are you willing to do to keep your greatest secret just that- a secret. What are you willing to give up? Hanna gives up herself and what she knows. She more or less, literally and figuratively, gives up her life.
Read the book and see the movie. Both are fantastic and great in so many ways. I'm including the trailer to The Reader as a quick overview of what is both in the book and movie.