"A counterpointing of two stories, or a story and a history, of victim and victimizer, culpability and disavowal, indictment and extenuation. ... Bernhard Schlink has taken on a grievously formidable subject. ...We praise books that, as we say, make us think. The Reader makes us think ... about things we would rather not think about, issues which the book leaves open and we might wish to have closed one way or another."
— The New York Review of Books
"Beautiful, disturbing ... ensnares both heart and mind."
— Los Angeles Times
"It speaks straight to the heart."
— Suzanne Ruta, The New York Times
"A compact portrayal of a teenaged German boy's love affair with an emotionally remote older woman, and the troubled consequence of his discovery of who she really is and why she simultaneously needed him and rejected him. Seven years after their intimacy, university student Michael Berg accidentally learns that (now) 40ish Hannah Schmitz had concealed from him a past that reaches back to Auschwitz and had burdened her with nightmares from which her young lover was powerless to awaken her. Toward its climax, the novel becomes, fitfully, frustratingly abstract, but on balance this is a gripping psychological study that moves skillfully toward its surprising and moving conclusion."
— Kirkusny Minghella