Fifteen-year old Michael Berg is on his way home from school when he is sick outside an apartment building. A woman helps him to clean up and takes him home. When he returns to thank her, he and Hanna become friends. Hanna takes an interest in Michael's school work, insisting that he study hard and asking him to read aloud to her from his school books. Even though Hanna is twice his age, she seduces him, and the two embark on a friendship and affair which ends abruptly when Hanna disappears.
Many years later, when Michael is studying law, he sees Hanna again, this time in a court of law. Hanna and a group of other women are accused of horrifying war time atrocities. Michael becomes obsessed with the trial. He at last understands some of the mystery surrounding Hanna. However, Hanna refuses to defend herself in court, and Michael is left with a new mystery about the women he realizes he knew so little. As Michael strives to understand Hanna's past, he also tries to understand where he fit into Hanna's life.
This report prepared by A. Antonow
15-year-old Michael Berg is sick on his way home from school, and a 36-year-old neighbor named Hanna tends to him. Shortly thereafter they become lovers, and she has him read books to her. Then she disappears without a word. The next time he lays eyes on her, 7 years later, she is a defendant in a concentration camp trial. Michael watches his former lover refuse to defend herself, wonders about a secret she might wish to protect more than to avoid a guilty verdict, and ponders the nature of their relationship. The book raises questions about guilt, obligation, personal feelings versus public justice, and compassion. The prose is artless and spare; the book a quick but penetrating read.
This report prepared by David Loftus
Even though this was a book on "Oprah's Book List" I did not enjoy it. At all. This was a depressing, long drawn out book, "hyped" as having this incredible secret to uncover. When the secret finally came out, I realized I knew the secret from early on in the book. This is an account of a young boy, seduced by a much older women in post war Germany. The way their lives came together, and what happened to them as the boy got older. It was horribly boring and I had a hard time finishing it. I felt nothing for the characters, or their situation. However, if someone has a great intrest in the subject of the persecution of the Jewish people, and seduction of a boy, and enjoys reading page after page about places in Germany...they by all means, this is the book for you.
This report prepared by Darcey