Joanne's Reviews > The Borrower

The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai
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Jul 04, 11


Oh how I wanted to love this book! It has so many things that I adore: libraries, quirkiness, a book reference on almost every page, a journey, a possibly-gay 10 year-old boy, various unrequited loves...

The book turned out to be grounded more in farce than in reality, which would have been ok except that the protagonist was so dull you couldn't really root for her, and in a farce, you need to have some attachment to the main character in order to swallow all the unrealistic situations and coincidences.

Also (this is not a spoiler but the main idea of the book) she kidnaps a child!! She kidnaps a child!!! She. Kidnaps. A. Child. I don't care how bad she thinks his home life is, she should not have kidnapped the child.

This book does a disservice to real librarians who work hard to get their MLS degrees, since Lucy Hull just plods her way into a job that actually requires some expertise.

I don't even want to get into the gay-kid aspect of the novel. It hits too close to home for me. Ian may or may not be gay (the only reason he may be is because some adults think he is; that wasn't reason enough for me to buy into it. What, he's a voracious reader, has a soft voice and likes to sing? Most of the boys I know who fit that description are straight.) The fundamentalist Christian aspect was, I think, handled more realistically.

And as long as I'm ripping this book a new one, can I just say---and I don't think this is petty---the Hush Puppy dog is a Bassett hound, not a beagle. She keeps calling it a beagle!! I kept waiting for someone to correct her---Glenn or Ian---but no one did, and I can only assume that this point slipped past a bunch of people as the book was being readied for publication. What the hell.

I hated the ending, which really made me lose respect for the book. I might have been able to deal with all of the other stuff because I did love the literary references, the parodies, and the basic idea of the story. But the string of coincidences at the end were just silly. I wanted some triumph for Ian; I put so much time into making sure he was ok.

Two and a half stars. I just can't round it up to three because I felt the pacing was off: started out ok and then just dragged. They spent so much time at their final destination, time that didn't need to be spent, that I almost started to hate what is actually one of my very favorite states.
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Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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message 1: by Robin (new) - added it

Robin Totally agree. Horribly disappointed, and like you, I wanted to love this book but ended up skimming after page 100.


Emily I'm on the same page. This book had so much potential, but was frustrating in so many ways!!


Sharon I couldn't agree with you more! Reading it became a chore. I wanted to slap Lucy on several occasions. Lucy's self-righteousness didn't warrant any sympathy the author tried to garner with her character.

I think the story would have been more interesting if Makkai didn't have Lucy kidnap Ian but engaged in more creative antics at the library.


Tara Leu Couldn't disagree more. I find it so strange that some people here have the reaction of "she shouldn't have done that," as if that constitutes a review. Isn't the very first line something about her being the villain? It's not like you didn't have fair warning... It's not a "how to" book.


Sarah H Absolutely! And I caught the bassett/beagle mixup. A real children's librarian would have known the difference!


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