I might be the villain of this story.
–Rebecca Makkai - The borrower - c.2011 - pg.1
I’ll admit I picked this book up because I liked the tagline, She borrowed a child. He stole her. Lucy Hull who is a children’s librarian runs away with Ian Drake when she finds him hiding out in the library one morning. She’s always enjoyed him when he visited the library, even if she did worry over his mother and the insistance that Ian only be allowed borrow books with the “breath of God” in them. And definitely not those ones with magic and satanism in them!
And then Lucy finds a note making her believe that Ian is being sent to anti-gay classes. She isn’t really kidnapping him, she is rescuing him.
I so wanted to enjoy this book, I really wanted to love it, because it came so close to being a great read. Instead I was annoyed by Lucy. She just irritated me. At first it was because she seemed to be doing that annoying thing of defining someone by their job. She defined herself by her job as a librarian. And I hate that. A person is not a job, a job is something that someone does for a part of their day. And not only that, but she defines librarians by their usual clichés and stereotypes. And really, working in a library, shouldn’t she know better?
Maybe that is why she annoyed me, being a librarian myself I dislike those bun-wearing, shush-type people. I don’t think I’ve ever met a person who acted like that in any of the libraries I’ve worked in.
But at the same time as disliking Lucy I did come to understand her, and how her family history, or her father’s lies, to be more accurate, define her. Her father left Russia, escaping after starting an underground chocolate factory and running afoul of the communist authorities. Or did he? Lucy has always believed his stories and tales to be lies, but maybe it is better they stay that way?
There is a lot of really interesting stuff going on in this book; the role of books in people’s lives, the duty of a library, immigration & cultural issues, what it means to be a grown up. And it is all very readable. I still wish I could’ve loved it, but unfortunately I was too irritated by Lucy. But you may not be, so do give it a try. In a funny way, I do recommend it