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The Borrower Paperback – 7 Jul 2011


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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: William Heinemann (7 July 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0434021008
  • ISBN-13: 978-0434021000
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.4 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 762,594 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"She's a great writer...a wonderfully entertaining story packed with moral conundrums and beautiful writing"--Patrick Neale, Jaffe & Neal Bookshops, The Bookseller

"This story - often fun, sometimes sad, always bookish - deals with big issues... Rebecca Makkai's literary debut will appeal to young adults and readers of adult literary fiction."--We Love This Book

"Ian is a little star. His many sayings and observations that he'll burst out with are endearing - and often funny. It's clear that Lucy is smitten by her favourite 'borrower.'"--The Bookbag

"Makkai takes several risks in her sharp, often witty text, replete with echoes of children's classics from 'Goodnight Moon' to 'The Wonderful Wizard of Oz', as well as more ominous references to Lolita...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."--Kirkus

"Rarely is a first novel as smart and engaging and learned and funny and moving as 'The Borrower.'"--Richard Russo, Pulitzer Prize-winning and bestselling author of That Old Cape Magic and Empire Falls

"The Borrower's out and out charm is heightened by its furious, righteous heart and conviction that books offer salvation and hope when life is messy and near-unbearable"--Marie Claire

Book Description

A fabulous debut novel about the stories we read and the ones we tell ourselves.


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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A John TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 28 July 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The story centres on Lucy Hull, a Librarian in a small US town, and 10 year old Ian Drake, a regular borrower, who captures her sympathies. Which is fine, until he manages to push Lucy into being his accomplice when he runs away. At its heart, this is a story about Lucy working out who she really is, and why a ten year old boy is too young to do the same.

The book is very engaging, it drew me in from the first pages, and I kept reaching for it, kept wanting to read on. The book is written from the perspective of Lucy, in a very wry fashion, and one of the most engaging aspects is when she realises that some of her mental pictures of the people she knows are fundamentally wrong, and that people are far more complex than the straight forward picture she has painted in her head.

It is a book that tells you that life isn't perfect. And it plays with the clichéd expectation of a story, refusing to pander to expectation, firmly returning to a very real world.

I'd highly recommend this. It's the kind of book I would happily read again.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Freckles VINE VOICE on 11 Aug. 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is a charming novel for book lovers everywhere.
Lucy is a librarian in Hannibal, Missouri where she works in the children's section. Ian Drake is a complex ten year old. Very intelligent....precociously so....he is addicted to reading. His mother is strange, to say the least, and vets everything Ian reads. She is convinced that Ian is a budding gay and sends him to religious anti-gay classes to "cure" him of his supposed budding sexuality. In summary, Ian is closeted and controlled and Lucy feels deeply sorry for him.
Then one day, Lucy finds Ian has been camping out in the library and she is swept along with his plans of escaping from his parents. With his back pack of belongings and a tall story about visiting his "grandmother," Ian persuades Lucy to set off on an improvised road trip. Despite Lucy's fear of being charged with kidnapping, off they go to Vermont. Their adventures are beautifully portrayed and the characters they meet up with along the way are well drawn. Lucy's on off boyfriend, Glenn, joins them for part of the journey, but the pair are happy to offload him at the earliest opportunity. They also visit Lucy's Russian parents which is very entertaining.
Throughout their journey, Lucy wrestles with her conscience. She realises, of course, that what she is doing is foolhardy and very wrong, but there is something urging her ever onwards. Ian, meanwhile, insists on taking over the map reading. There is also a mysterious stranger following them, in an identical vehicle to the one Lucy is driving. Although their trip only spans 10 days, it seems much longer and the conclusion of the novel is very touching. The book is also very funny, in parts, and I enjoyed the frequent references to children's and adult's literature along the way.
I loved it and would highly recommend it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Sensible Cat on 30 Aug. 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
There are not many novels about librarians (with the honourable exception of The Time Traveller's Wife). Generally perceived as being sex-starved, introverted and dull, in fact many of them have a rebellious streak that surfaces when the issue of censorship of reading matter rears its ugly head. This concern is particularly emotive in the case of children's librarianship, which happens to be my own profession. The first thing I can say in favour of this book is that the library background is impeccably realised and, as someone who has had my own share of run-ins with hardliners seeking to ban Harry Potter, I really enjoyed that.

Lucy finds herself in a moral dilemma when her favourite young customer, already being thoroughly messed up by his parents, camps out in the library building and won't go home. In a moment of madness that she spends the rest of the story regretting, she piles him into her car and they embark on that iconic American experience, the road trip. Making a child abductor, even an involuntary one, a sympathetic character is a bit of a challenge for any writer. There are times when you want to shake Lucy but undoubtedly her heart is in the right place. Like any good liberal bankrolled by Daddy (a cruel way of putting it but nevertheless true), she is shocked to the core by the thought of her studious, unconventional and emotionally manipulative young charge being sent to classes to reprogramme his sexual orientation. But is she any better - so certain of the moral high ground that she's prepared to usurp his parents as the controller of his life?

This book is very funny, as well as thought-provoking. It certainly gives conservatives a tough time but it doesn't let liberals off lightly, either.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By San Diego surfer on 19 Oct. 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The Borrower is Rebecca Makkai's debut novel and I really hope that she publishes another novel soon. I loved reading this book as it's such a breath of fresh air. It's one of those books where one has to slightly suspend rational and logical thought patterns because although it isn't fantasy, some of the storyline is quite unrealistic and fantastical. It's also the kind of book which will surprise you, delight you and intrigue you.

It's a quirky tale which follows a young librarian named Lucy Hull, who works in the children's section of the library in a small town in Missouri, and a ten year old boy called Ian Drake, who adores reading. When Ian runs away from home, they embark on a road trip across the US, meeting several strange, interesting and amusing characters along the way.

I highly recommend Makkai's writing and I will certainly be seeking out more of her works when she publishes them. The Borrower is superb!
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