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The Borrower: A Novel by Rebecca Makkai
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The Borrower: A Novel (edition 2012)

by Rebecca Makkai

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676None14,115 (3.5)1 / 36
Member:TravellinPenguin
Title:The Borrower: A Novel
Authors:Rebecca Makkai
Info:Penguin Books (2012), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 336 pages
Collections:Have read this book
Rating:***
Tags:A Library Book Read

Work details

The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai

2011 (14) 2012 (8) audio (5) books (18) books about books (20) boys (8) children (9) contemporary (6) ebook (7) family (7) fiction (113) gay (9) homosexuality (9) humor (6) kidnapping (25) librarian (19) librarians (45) libraries (18) library (16) novel (6) read (9) read in 2011 (8) reading (7) road trip (26) runaway (9) runaways (12) Russia (7) Russians (7) to-read (44) Vermont (5)

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English (69)  Dutch (3)  German (2)  All languages (74)
Showing 1-5 of 69 (next | show all)
This book is all about right and wrong. Only it is poorly written. It follows a children's librarian as she runs away with a young gay boy. To keep him away from his homophobic parents. She plays right into his hand. The librarian was more the child than the boy. It irritated me to no end. Any adult would have given the child a safe place to talk and even maybe helped him find pflag. However an adult would not allow a small child to talk her into taking him on a crosscountry adventure without any reparations or even getting caught. Lucy the librarian was boring as an individual and it was horrid being inside her head. She could barely make the correct decisions for herself let alone for a child. Don't bother just talk to any indefinite adolescent of the recent generation. ( )
  sarahzilkastarke | Nov 20, 2013 |
The cover--gorgeous!
The story--sounds fantastic... Only on pg 67.

There was so much to like about the storyline, but some of it didn't flesh out very well. Thank god the story wrapped up fairly well. I really felt like the author got her groove going once they left the library.
I still enjoyed the story. It made me think about my own religion, and how natural is is to want to protect your children from outside influences. I love books. I can't imagine what my childhood would have been like had I been kept from certain books, let alone feeling like I must reprogram my whole being to be accepted by my parents.
( )
  MochiMama | Aug 21, 2013 |
As much as I wanted to love this book, which sounded as though it were tailor-made for me (Libraries! Classic children's literature! Russians! The triumph of people with precocious imaginations over the dull Philistines!), in the end it had that strained, airless quality common to all proselytizing tracts, no matter how well-written or how sympathetic the subject matter. Still, I recognize and am proud to acknowledge in these pages the ridiculous creed that I live by:

"Because what it's come down to, after that whole messy spring, that whole tortured summer, all the time since, is this: I no longer believe I can save people. I've tried, and I've failed, and while I'm sure there are people out in the world with that particular gift, I'm not one of them. I make too much of a mess of things. But books, on the other hand: I do still believe that books can save you." ( )
  booksinthebelfrey | Aug 4, 2013 |
Dear goodness, this was dreadful. I took an instant dislike to the narrator, Lucy - "a simple maiden lady librarian". Aargh. Then it turns out that she isn't even a librarian. After taking an English degree, she goes to the careers office, caring "so very little where she went next" and ends up obtaining a list of contacts whom she emails in alphabetical order. The library is in the Bs and the contact urgently needed staff. "I had no library science degree and no experience". Wonderful. Tell that to all of the qualified librarians who compete for jobs. This doesn't stop her continuing to refer to herself as a librarian throughout the rest of the book. Irritating. Then there's this: "Once a year all the librarians in the county wedged themselves into high heels, tried to pull the cat hair off their sweaters with masking tape, and smeared their lips with an awful tomato red that had gone stale in its tube." What, they all used the same lipstick? Or, "I don't know why I was always so anxious to prove I wasn't one of those librarians, the ones who had left the benefit early to feed their cats."

Lucy is 26. It wasn't clear to me whether the author was deliberately making her so obnoxious and dissatisfied with her job. There is a reference to the alternate life of the wife in 'It's A Wonderful Life' - "there she runs in thick glasses, clutching books to her useless breasts....how strange that this profession should be so associated with loneliness, virginity, female desperation." Is this a nod indicating that it is Lucy who sees librarianship in this way, and not the author? Like I say, it isn't clear, and it annoyed the hell out of me.

Anyway. The book was written in 2011, and tells the story of Lucy, who fears that one of her 10 year-old borrowers is being indoctrinated by a homophobic church. So she and the boy run away. The plot is totally improbable. Her feeble justifications for the act are implausible. An adult with a job working with children just wouldn't be so stupid.

I forced myself to finish the book anyway, and can only conclude that it was a reasonable idea poorly executed and horrendously cliched. The story is that Lucy wants to save the boy with book recommendations. Every library stereotype in the book is pulled out of the hat. Inexcusable in 2013. ( )
1 vote deargreenplace | Jul 9, 2013 |
Such a fun, crazy, adventure. Not sure who kidnaps who in the end but you hope everyone turned out alright. ( )
  nbermudez | May 9, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 69 (next | show all)
The novel bogs down for a long time in the middle with an excess of plot, but the moving final chapters affirm the power of books to change people’s lives even as they acknowledge the unbreakable bonds of home and family.

Smart, literate and refreshingly unsentimental.
 
In her bracingly tough-minded tale of a discontented librarian who hits the road with a maladjusted 10-year-old, Rebecca Makkai tips her hat to a shelf-load of children's literature, offering sly echoes of everything from "Charlotte's Web" by E.B. White to "Where's Spot?" By Eric Hill, while crafting her own distinctive sound in a first novel definitely not for kids. Makkai avoids almost all the pitfalls of debut fiction, including sentimentality and undigested autobiography, and though her plotting isn't as deft as her characterizations, the wonderfully nuanced closing pages more than make up for the occasional longueurs that precede them....Yet every conflicted word Lucy utters in Makkai's probing novel reminds us that literature matters because it helps us discover ourselves while exploring the worlds of others.
 
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I might be the villain of this story. Even now, it's hard to tell.
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
A librarian and a young boy obsessed with reading take to the road.

Lucy Hull, a young children’s librarian in Hannibal, Missouri, finds herself both kidnapper and kidnapped when her favorite patron, ten-year-old Ian Drake, runs away from home. The precocious Ian is addicted to reading, but needs Lucy’s help to smuggle books past his overbearing mother, who has enrolled Ian in weekly anti-gay classes.

Lucy, a rebel at heart beneath her librarian’s exterior, stumbles into a moral dilemma when she finds Ian camped out in the library after hours with a knapsack of provisions and an escape plan. Desperate to save him from the Drakes, Lucy allows herself to be hijacked by Ian. The odd pair embarks on an improvised road trip from Missouri to Vermont, with ferrets and an inconvenient boyfriend thrown in their path. Along the way, Lucy struggles to make peace with her Russian immigrant father and his fugitive past, and is forced to use his shady connections to escape discovery. [the author]
Haiku summary
A librarian / kidnapped a little boy and / then sent him back home (_debbie_)
Ran from religion / Hiding out with the Russians / Reading can save you (_debbie_)

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(see all 3 descriptions)

When her favorite patron, a book-loving ten-year-old, runs away from overbearing parents who force him to attend anti-gay classes with a celebrity pastor, children's librarian Lucy Hull flees with the boy and discovers that they are being pursued by an anonymous adversary.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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