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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Borrower: Author Event

Book cover of The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai
"We are all storytellers." - Rebecca Makkai

I love author events, so when I found out that the Lake Forest Book Store hosts author luncheons, I signed myself right up.  Today's luncheon showcased local author Rebecca Makkai and her debut novel The Borrower.  Makkai has an impressive résumé as a short story writer - she's been featured in The Best American Short Stories four times, and she's been praised by literary heavies like Geraldine Brooks and Richard Russo.

The Borrower is a fantastic read.  It's the story of Lucy Hull, a children's librarian from Hannibal, Missouri, who befriends a 10-year-old patron named Ian.  When Lucy finds out that Ian's parents are sending him to an evangelical camp that specializes in "correcting" homosexual tendencies in boys, she is horrified.  Together, Lucy and Ian kidnap each other and head off on a cross-country adventure that causes Lucy to question her essential purpose and, ultimately, the choices she's made.

Makkai fills the book with all sorts of literary references, from Lolita and Crime & Punishment, to Goodnight Moon and If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.  Fans of children's literature will be particularly delighted by the little gifts that Makkai includes throughout her prose.  (My favorite: the nod to the Choose Your Own Adventure books - loved it!)

Photo of author Rebecca Makkai The Borrower
The Borrower was funny and moving and frustrating in equal parts.  Ian was charmingly precocious, but Lucy was extraordinarily complex - what rational adult kidnaps a child and manages to convince herself that it's the right thing to do?  And yet who can fault that same adult for trying to make a child feel loved for who he is?   Makkai said that she wanted her protagonist to exist in a moral "grey area," and she clearly succeeded.  The Borrower is a thoughtful and creative book that would be an excellent choice for any book club and a wonderful gift for fans of literary fiction.

Side note: The luncheon was held at Lovell's in Lake Forest, owned by Capt. Jim Lovell - yeah, like Capt. Jim Lovell of Apollo 13 fame.  Pretty cool, huh?  Who knew Tom Hanks became a restauranteur?

Romance novel book reviews by Sarah The Brazen Bookworm


  1. I just discovered this book the other day. Thanks for the review. Sounds like a really interesting read.

  2. Melissa - You should definitely check it out! Interesting is a good word for it - it kept me turning the pages! :)

  3. I have wanted to read this ever since I first heard about it...I am on the list at the library for the audioversion and hope my number comes up soon :)

    Love the new look of the blog!


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