Kathrina's Reviews > The Borrower

The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai
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Jul 12, 11

bookshelves: american-fiction, books-that-changed-me
Read from June 21 to July 01, 2011

I finished this book almost two weeks ago, but I've struggled in how to write this review. This book was a personal treasure to me, and writing my thoughts on it feel almost too intimate, too vulnerable, to bare to the world. And that's strange to me, because this is not high literature, no one will be studying this in a classroom, and it likely will never be a bestseller, but it spoke to me, or maybe echoed to me, all the things I try to say about what drives me and what I want to do with my life. We are all on this planet for a reason, or it helps to think we are, and my reason is to be the kidnapping librarian.
The narrator, Lucy, is scatterbrained and self-doubting, uncertain of the values she's inherited and infuriated by the values she's confronted with that aim to block and submerge any sense of self-awareness. But she's certain that a reading life opens doors we didn't even know were blocking the view, and if she can pass on anything at all, it is that knowledge, that there are worlds and beliefs and perceptions on the other side of the door. This urgent belief is framed inside a charming plot -- charming not in action, but in how Lucy chews through her thoughts and shares or doesn't share with her 11-year-old charge, Ian. By the end of this narrative we understand that this is only the beginning of the journey for Ian, and a difficult one it will be, but Lucy provides in the best way she knows how, by suggesting the titles that can see him through each year of young adulthood -- the books that will help him to see himself. What an awesome gift, and what a tribute to the work of all the best librarians, booksellers and English teachers. Isn't this why we do it? As inglorious as a kidnapping, shelving, stickering, endlessly recommending, reading aloud...in the end it's nice to think we're busy mending souls.
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Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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Kathrina 15 pages in is all, and I'm mad that Makkai is stealing all my literary thunder. Now what am I gonna write? Well, if I didn't get there first, I'm glad she's doing it. This is my lunch break read, but it may come home with me since 10 minutes at a time is not enough...


message 2: by karen (new)

karen oooohhh i await review


Kathrina karen, my library/bookstore sister, I'm thinking about you as I read this. My conflict with teaching Coldest Winter Ever -- addressed pretty much in the very first chapter...


message 4: by karen (new)

karen ooh!! i have the book - i will go home and read that chapter!!


message 5: by Jen (new) - added it

Jen Shit. This review itself spoke to me, so I'm sure the book will mumble a thing or two. Thanks.


Kathrina ooh, Jen, I missed your comment. Yes, you should read this, and look for her video where Makkai talks about a stack of books she recommends for young adults questioning their identity. I found it on Barnes & Noble Review; probably also on youtube.


message 7: by Jen (new) - added it

Jen I've emailed myself this comment so that I can look Makkai up later. Thanks!


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