There are two parts of this book.
The first part is set in post-war Germany, with 15-year old Michael Berg walking home from school. Suddenly, he becomes ill. 36-year old Hanna Schmitz takes him home, aids him, and takes care of him. When he recovers from his sickness, he returns back home, only to find himself wanting to see Hanna again to thank her. So he does, and finds himself falling in love with her. And so this mature, sexual, love affair begins. And then one day, out of nowhere, Hanna Schmitz vanishes without a goodbye. Michael is left waiting and hoping, crushed by his first love.
The second part is when he grows older and is a law student. He sees Hanna again for the first time since they separated in a very unexpected circumstance and situation; in the court room with Hanna convicted as a criminal. Still trying to figure out why she left, he is boggled by his emotions that longed for this reunion, and his mind, that longed for the truth, only to uncover Hanna’s deeper and darker secrets.
I’m sorry if the summary is quite long. I even had to edit some sentences out because I wanted to keep talking about it. Needless to say, I liked this book a lot.
It was so intriguing and mysterious, as well as endearing. You can’t help but wonder if there are relationships like this that exist to this day, and I’m pretty sure there is.
It is a bit sad though, knowing that some people are still stuck in the past and can never manage to fully move on. The young, innocent boy just never moved on.
The whole book was just so well-written, and so emotional that you can not help but feel for the characters. I particularly liked how smart and straight-forward the author’s writing is. No questions asked, no plot holes left. Just an excellent woven story that will stay in your head until later, making you reflect about what love should really be about and what or who we should live our lives for.
*I have not watched the movie, unfortunately. Personally, I’m a fan of Kate Winslet and can picture her playing the character of Hanna so well. I just can’t wait for it to get out on DVD so I can finally catch it.