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She borrowed a child. He stole her…

January 15, 2012

“The borrower” by Rebecca Makkai

Reviewed by Natalie

Lucy Hull is a 26-year-old children’s librarian, in the small town of Hannibal, Missouri. Her favourite patron is 10-year-old Ian Drake, a ‘camp’ little boy who loves to read but his books are censored by his religious mother. So Lucy helps him by smuggling books out of the library for him, under her own name.

Ian’s parents enrol him in an anti-gay religious class. Pastor Bob – who has a dubious reputation – promotes his club with the promise that he can turn children who appear to be leaning in a certain sexual direction back onto the straight and narrow. As the weeks pass, Ian’s behaviour changes to the point that Lucy is quite concerned about his welfare.

One morning, Lucy arrives at work to find that Ian has run away from home and camped out in the library all night. Lucy gives him a ride home, but Ian directs her to the wrong house and then tells her that if she doesn’t take him where he wants, he’ll tell everyone that she kidnapped him.

Lucy once had a gay friend, and she felt that she failed him … as a teenager, he was so persecuted that he committed suicide. And Lucy doesn’t want that to happen to Ian. She wants to save him. So she goes along with Ian, and thus begins the adventure of Lucy and Ian’s trip through several states, with the police and a mysterious stranger on their tail. In the end, Ian gets what he wants and Lucy gets a new direction in life.

This novel is beautifully written, in a conversational but prosaic style. I found the story quite riveting, although the plot line is really quite simple. If this first effort from author Rebecca Makkai is anything to go by, I can’t wait for the next one.  7/10

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From → New Books

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