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The Borrower: A Novel by Rebecca Makkai

The Borrower: A Novel (edition 2012)

by Rebecca Makkai

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8699610,234 (3.44)1 / 46
Title:The Borrower: A Novel
Authors:Rebecca Makkai
Info:Penguin Books (2012), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 336 pages
Collections:Have read this book
Tags:A Library Book Read

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The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai

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English (91)  Dutch (4)  German (3)  Spanish (2)  French (1)  All languages (101)
Showing 1-5 of 91 (next | show all)
Abandoned. I enjoyed the library interaction with patrons and reading suggestions, but the author seemed to mainly be concerned with Christian-bashing and an LGBT agenda. I just could not continue to listen to the audiobook.
  thornton37814 | Jul 1, 2016 |
I had a hard time believing that this librarian was ok with essentially kidnapping a child. I empathised with the parents of the boy, whose child was missing for a week. Even though they were fundamentalist christians and were not likable people at all, they still loved their child. ( )
  benismydog | Jun 18, 2016 |
Beautiful, provocative, tragic, and fun. Almost perfect. My only quibbles are that the librarian could have made a difference in the child's life without the drama (but then she wouldn't have made her own personal journey of growth), and that the other librarians were caricatures and not believable. Highly recommended if you can manage a bit of suspension of disbelief. ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 6, 2016 |
The Borrower - Rebecca Makkai
Audio version narrated by. Emily Bauer
3 stars ( I liked it, sometimes, but not a lot.)

Twenty-something, Lucy Hull, has taken a limited but safe job as a children’s librarian in Hannibal, Missouri. An enthusiastic English major, she works hard to introduce her patrons to the joys of reading good literature. [b]The Borrower[/b] is her story, told as a personal confession. It’s a confidential ‘Dear Diary’ self-analysis that manages to avoid any personal growth while including her judgmental opinions of the rest of the world.
She annoyed me.

Lucy has a favorite, frequent library patron named Ian Drake. Ian is an obviously effeminate boy from a restrictive, fundamental Christian family. His mother approaches Lucy for help in finding appropriate literature for Ian; books with “the breath of God.” When he is alone in the library, 10 year-old Ian actively defies his mother’s wishes and chooses other books. Lucy embarks upon a righteous, first amendment, campaign and assists Ian to the extent of checking out his books in her own name. She becomes concerned and personally outraged when she learns that Ian has been enrolled in ‘anti-gay’ classes with a radically fundamental preacher. Lucy’s involvement with Ian escalates when Ian runs away from home and takes up residence in the library.


From the description this is a book that should have delighted me. I’m something of an expert in children’s literature and this book is full of references to some of the best. (The “If you give a librarian a closet” spoof on the Laura Numeroff books was very well done). I happen to agree emphatically with the liberal gay rights viewpoint of the narrator. Having a liberal viewpoint gives me the parental rights to raise my own children from that perspective. It gives me the right to vote my beliefs and express them as I choose to other adults. It does not give me the right to interfere with someone else’s children on ethical or religious issues. As to agreeing to transport the child across multiple state borders to find a fictional grandmother….. this scenario is never remotely believable. The road trip portion of this book goes on and on interminably while going absolutely no where. Ian has a fun diversion from his real life, while Lucy digs herself deeper and deeper into a hole. In the end, there is an unlikely rescue/resolution, and Lucy seems to have gained nothing in self-knowledge or growth.

The main character’s lack of growth leads me to the biggest problem with this book. The story is just a platform for the propaganda. And even though this is a viewpoint that I support, propaganda does not make good reading. As a springboard for discussion the book has a lot of potential. Makkai has approached issues that are worth serious thought and debate. She has unfortunately created a character, Lucy Hull, who is immaturely incapable of either.

( )
  msjudy | May 30, 2016 |
I wanted to like this more than I did. I think I needed to be able to suspend disbelief just a bit more than I was able to. ( )
  CydMelcher | Feb 5, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 91 (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.

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Rebecca Makkaiprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Homedes Beutnagel, JofreTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Homedes, JofreTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I might be the villain of this story. Even now, it's hard to tell.
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Book description
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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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)

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Average: (3.44)
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1 13
1.5 4
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2.5 8
3 81
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4 101
4.5 15
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An edition of this book was published by Audible.com.

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An edition of this book was published by HighBridge Audio.

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