Customer Reviews for

The Borrower: A Novel

Average Rating 3.5
( 60 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(20)

4 Star

(15)

3 Star

(13)

2 Star

(7)

1 Star

(5)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

17 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

Phenomenal and original

It's too bad B and N has up only the Publishers Weekly review for this book, which is the only somewhat negative review I've seen (I researched before pitching to my club which reads new hardcover fiction the month it comes out). This book is hard to describe, but marve...
It's too bad B and N has up only the Publishers Weekly review for this book, which is the only somewhat negative review I've seen (I researched before pitching to my club which reads new hardcover fiction the month it comes out). This book is hard to describe, but marvelous. It's about a children's librarian, and it has some of those same fantastical elements, larger than life characters, and the fast pace you would remember from the children's books you loved, but this is definitely for adults or teenagers at the youngest. There's a sort of "kidnapping" involved which is not really a kidnapping at all, and you could debate for weeks what actually happened. This is actually one of the things I think makes it a great pick for book clubs, and I imagine when it comes out in paperback a lot more clubs will be picking it. My club will read it next month and I'm sure it will stir a lot of debate, in a good way. Really this was a fast read, and I stayed up till 2 one morning to finish it, which is saying a lot (for me).

posted by LaurenSleigh on June 17, 2011

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

LIKE THE ACCIDENT YOU JUST HAVE TO SEE...

I did not really enjoy this book but I always finish a story once I start it even if I'm not thrilled or don't like it. That being said, I gave it 3 stars for originality although the premise is so far fetched it was totally unbelievable; a Librarian who is pretty much ...
I did not really enjoy this book but I always finish a story once I start it even if I'm not thrilled or don't like it. That being said, I gave it 3 stars for originality although the premise is so far fetched it was totally unbelievable; a Librarian who is pretty much unhappy in her present-and past-life who kidnaps-but not really-one of her child patrons and gets away with it, totally! I did enjoy the literary blurbs, having recognized all of them. At times it was amusing with an underlying moral of acceptance. I would not recommend this one to anyone I know.

posted by GreenEyedReader on October 17, 2011

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  • Posted June 17, 2011

    Phenomenal and original

    It's too bad B and N has up only the Publishers Weekly review for this book, which is the only somewhat negative review I've seen (I researched before pitching to my club which reads new hardcover fiction the month it comes out). This book is hard to describe, but marvelous. It's about a children's librarian, and it has some of those same fantastical elements, larger than life characters, and the fast pace you would remember from the children's books you loved, but this is definitely for adults or teenagers at the youngest. There's a sort of "kidnapping" involved which is not really a kidnapping at all, and you could debate for weeks what actually happened. This is actually one of the things I think makes it a great pick for book clubs, and I imagine when it comes out in paperback a lot more clubs will be picking it. My club will read it next month and I'm sure it will stir a lot of debate, in a good way. Really this was a fast read, and I stayed up till 2 one morning to finish it, which is saying a lot (for me).

    17 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 11, 2011

    Best book I've read in a long time ...

    This is one of those books that really sticks with you. If you are a voracious reader, as I am, or if you have young children, as I do, you will catch (and be able to place) many of the literary references that the author includes in the book. Those make the book more interesting, but catching them is certainly not required to appreciate the novel's meaning or, certainly, to enjoy it. They just, in my opinion, make the ride more worthwhile.

    References aside, this is a fabulous book. It's relentlessly engrossing, but it's not your typical summer "beach read". It's so much more than that. It's a book lover's book in the best possible way, and not just because of the literary references. It's one of the first books I've read in a long time that I literally haven't been able to put down. And now that I've finished it, I wish I had read it more slowly so that I could still be enjoying it.

    A unique and very interesting plot, relatable and entertaining characters, and a plethora of "morals of the story". All spun together by someone who clearly has a way with words; Makkai is a fabulous storyteller, and I eagerly await her next work. Read this book now. You won't regret it.

    15 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 17, 2011

    I bought five copies

    Seriously, I bought five copies. I got this myself on my Nook, and then I bought four more copies for friends (three LGB friends who I thought would feel a kinship with one of the main characters, and one for my mother-in-law, who's a librarian like the other main character). It's truly a book for book-lovers, in the sense that it will take you back to what you first loved about books when you were a kid visiting your local library. The boy in the book, Ian, is ten and probably will be gay, and his parents are putting him in religious reprogramming with a celebrity pastor. It's really funny and well told, and I cared so much about what would happen to Ian by the end of the book. Totally a page turner, and so highly recommended.

    9 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 1, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Road trip for bibliophiles

    Rebecca Makkai's first novel is an intriguing and very engaging road trip story, owing equally to Lolita and Huckleberry Finn, with assistance from nearly every notable children's and YA book of the last century or so. On the surface this appears to be a story about a young, liberal English major-turned-librarian trying to help out a kid she perceives to be in trouble. Upon deeper inspection, though, you'll see a self-aware, unreliable narrator trying to fit the messiness of reality into the tidy confines of a story. It's a book about running away and growing up, about who we are and what we can change about ourselves, about youthful ideals and adult realities. It's really a pretty big effort, and I think Ms. Makkai succeeds admirably.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 14, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    so much fun

    Young Ian is ceaselessly borrowing books from the library. Novice librarian Lucy develops a sort of maternal or sororal affection for him and winds up borrowing him for a road trip. Or does Ian borrow her? It's a dual coming of age story. Ian and Lucy learn (or perhaps Lucy relearns) that our elders don't always have the answers and that life is a continuing journey of self-discovery. Rebecca Makkai blends nostalgia for youth and children's literature with big questions about identity and family. The Borrower turns out to be an uplifting novel filled with humor, suspense and characters I'd love to spend a day with.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 17, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    LIKE THE ACCIDENT YOU JUST HAVE TO SEE...

    I did not really enjoy this book but I always finish a story once I start it even if I'm not thrilled or don't like it. That being said, I gave it 3 stars for originality although the premise is so far fetched it was totally unbelievable; a Librarian who is pretty much unhappy in her present-and past-life who kidnaps-but not really-one of her child patrons and gets away with it, totally! I did enjoy the literary blurbs, having recognized all of them. At times it was amusing with an underlying moral of acceptance. I would not recommend this one to anyone I know.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 7, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    It¿s not often I come across a book that I enjoyed so much, but

    It’s not often I come across a book that I enjoyed so much, but can’t really write down words to convey my reaction. Instead of trying to write my review right away, I’ve given it a few days. I let the book play over in my head. I’m happy to say that the story is still fresh in my mind and I almost want to reread it already.

    Makkai have written an incredible début novel. The Borrower is filled with a cast of diverse and enjoyable characters, a mild suspense that keeps a reader flipping page after page, and a coming of age story of a unique sort.

    Not only is this an enchanting tale of Lucy and Ian’s cross-country trip/run from the law, it’s also a coming of age story about Lucy finding out about herself, her family, and contemplating something as large as the our nation of runaways. There are many different levels to pick this book apart from and each is as well-written as the others.

    I probably didn’t say much helpful in this review, but as I said, it’s hard to put my reaction into words for this book. Lucy and Ian are great characters, I was sad that this book didn’t have another 300 pages of them on an adventure. But I’m pleased with everything I read. Makkai will definitely be added to my list of favorite authors, even after reading only her début novel.

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  • Posted June 25, 2012

    OK, not recommended.

    The action of the book was really slow in places and I found myself wishing something would happen.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2012

    Great Story!,

    Perfect story for a middle school teacher! I've taught Ian Drake!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 20, 2012

    Clever, imaginative, but weird and unbelievable too

    I overall enjoyed the book, but glad I got it from the library and didn't purchase it. I too was so worried about how it might end that I guess I didn't appreciate alot of the adventure and lessons learned throughout the story. It was just okay.

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  • Posted December 4, 2011

    One of my favorite books

    This book literally had me laughing and crying. It is a wonderful and quirky story of a young woman and adolescent boy both coming of age, using their resources and good nature to defy convention in ways that work for them. It should be on more shelves.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 12, 2011

    Fun read

    Just reminds me how important reading is for young kids these days. Sweet story.

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  • Posted September 11, 2011

    Entertaining

    This story was a bit like a train wreck. You knew what was going on wasn't quite right, but you couldn't stop reading. The characters were very interesting. I was afraid of the ending, but was pleasently surprised. This was a good book, not great, but definately one you should read; very thought provoking.

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  • Posted August 30, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Librarian on the lam

    3.5 stars Children's librarian Lucy just can't figure out her young patron, Ian Drake. The ten-year-old seems to long for attention and is eager to read more books than most children his age are interested in, yet Lucy senses something is just not right. His parents are righteous Christians who won't allow Ian to read certain authors or books; the ingenious boy manages to slip a few forbidden books into his backpack or down the front of his pants anyway. After Lucy discovers that Ian has hidden overnight in the library, the two embark on a journey in her car. Lucy justifies the trip as keeping Ian safe from who-know-what is going on at home; she also seems to be filling a void in her life. The adventure is fun but far-fetched; who would take a child she barely knows (kidnap him) in such a manner? I did enjoy the book, though.

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  • Posted August 24, 2011

    Claim this book for your own.

    The Borrower reminds us that our children do not belong to us. They are only on loan for a short while and we can respect their individuality and appreciate their beauty by allowing them to show us who they are. Rebecca Makkai lets us feel the anxiety of breaking the rules and none of the consequences. Serious issues, serious fun.

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  • Posted August 6, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Loved It!

    The Borrower features great characters in a wonderfully written story about a librarian and a 10 year boy who find themselves in an unexpected situation. You do have to initially suspend some belief as a reader to allow for the fact they end up in the situation they are in. But as you get caught up learning about the characters through the great writing in this book, it is an easy leap of faith to make. I couldn't put it down and was disappointed to see the story come to an end.

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  • Posted August 5, 2011

    Good Debut

    It is rare that I agree with a Publishers Weekly review, however PW was right on the money with this one. I became frustrated with the extraneous writing. The story is fun. Lucy the librarian is a bit annoying at times. Overall, an entertaining read. Good, but not great.

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  • Posted July 22, 2011

    Fantastic, quick read

    Wow! Quick, ambling journey through a charecter's mind. Perhaps more notable for the quality of writing than the story itself, but definately worth the read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 25, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 1, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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