The Borrower

by Rebecca Makkai
ISBN: 9780670022816

The premise of this first novel was interesting enough: children’s librarian Lucy Hull kidnaps/is kidnapped by Ian, a young patron in desperate need of less awful parents.

This is how it starts:


I might be the villain of this story. Even now, it’s hard to tell.

Back at the library, amid the books and books on ancient Egypt, the picture the children loved the most showed the god of death weighing a dead man’s heart against a feather. There is the consolation, then, at least: one day, I will know my guilt.

I’ve left behind everyone I used to know. I’ve found another library, one with oak walls, iron railings. A college library, where the borrowers already know what they’re looking for. I scan their books and they barely acknowledge me through their caffeinated haze. It’s nothing like my old stained-carpet, brick-walled library, but the books are the same — same spines, same codes on yellowed labels. I know what’s in them all. They whisper their judgement down.

So I knew right away it was about books, nerds, and guilt. I was hooked.

It was a bit uneven it parts, but I enjoyed it — the crazy theater neighbors more, the boyfriend less — and I appreciated that it was trying to get somewhere, somewhere that probably couldn’t have a clear or very good end. (I had moments where I worried the ending would turn out too Thelma and Louise, but it didn’t.) It’s a good read. Recommended.

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