The Borrower

The Borrower

Book - 2011
Average Rating:
Rate this:
In this delightful, funny, and moving first novel, a librarian and a young boy obsessed with reading take to the road. The odd pair embarks on a crazy road trip from Missouri to Vermont, with ferrets, an inconvenient boyfriend, and an upsetting family history thrown in their path
Publisher: New York : Viking, c2011
ISBN: 9780670022816
Branch Call Number: FIC Makk
Characteristics: 324 p. ; 22 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Mar 30, 2020

This book may have been well-intentioned, but it was a boring mess. The librarian had all the judgment of a hamster. The book might have been a nice short story, but dragging the reader across the country on an aimless journey was pointless. The young boy develops his own opinion about the rules and reasoning of adults. Requiring the boy to lie to protect her seems to cancel out the goal of protecting him from misguided adults. Horrible book. Kristi & Abby Tabby

May 06, 2019

Although this is entirely a work of fiction, I've shelved it as 'Social Commentary" and therein lies a problem. The book is guaranteed to elicit both glowing reviews from some readers and hostile responses from others, because its entire premise focuses on driving home a socio-political message. It seems to me that Ms. Makkai's underlying purpose in writing the book has been to make a strong argument against restricting what books a public library may lend to a juvenile; but her argument goes far beyond that, into the contentious issue of the right of a parent to subject a child to religious and psychological manipulation to "cure" the child's tendency toward homosexuality. These are topics rife with controversy and neither side in the debate can claim a dispassionate and clearly fact based point of view. Ms. Makkai has a hobby horse and she rides it relentlessly. I lost count of the number of times she refers to the First Amendment as a sort of left-handed justification for her actions. Regardless of how sympathetic I as a reader may be to the unfortunate plight of the boy and how greatly I abhor self-seeking religious manipulators who cherry-pick the Bible for their own purposes, the book entirely fails to consider the legitimate concern of the boy's parents and their desire to guide their son toward a what they see as successful and rewarding life.
The contrived plot requires a very generous suspension of disbelief and the narrator by her own admission may not be reliable: She is far too emotionally engaged.
All of which makes it very difficult to review the book on its literary merits as simply a novel; which is unfortunate, because there are moments of brilliance in the writing and there are several characters with real possibilities. But the political message dominates. So even though Ms. Makkai's heart is in the right place I'm afraid she has chosen an ineffective vehicle to make her case on behalf of children's rights to find themselves and develop freely.

JCLHeatherM Oct 02, 2018

Lucy Hull is a children's librarian who beats to her own drum and loves to help find each reader the perfect book. A strong advocate for her patrons (young and old), Lucy forms a close bond with one of her regulars - Ian Drake - and opts to take drastic measures to rescue him from an unsafe home life. Trekking across country and playing by her own rules, Lucy struggles for answers in a blurred and polarized society where nothing is as black and white as it seems. Bucking the typical happy ending, Lucy and Ian find a bittersweet path where there's plenty of room for second chances.

There's lots of beloved children's literature parodied and referenced throughout the text. Keep on the lookout for 'If you Give a Mouse a Cookie', 'Goodnight Moon', 'Dr. Seuss', 'Where's Waldo', 'Hungry Little Caterpillar', and more!

Cynthia_N Dec 12, 2016

Enjoyable read with a 1/2 star bump up because the author either was or knows a children's librarian!

WVMLStaffPicks Aug 28, 2014

How can you enjoy a book about a woman who works in the children’s department of the local library when she kidnaps (borrows) a boy? Or is it he who takes her? This quirky, offbeat novel is fun to read. There are lots of references to children’s literature to enjoy along the way. You will need to let yourself go on the adventure to enjoy this story as there are lots of fantastical scenarios and characters that make the whole thing refreshingly different.

Sansha Jan 20, 2014

Different, not what I expected. I kept reading to the end but am still not sure what the implied message or point of view was.

JCLBrownM Apr 04, 2013

Lucy Hall is a children's librarian who is practically forced to kidnap her favorite patron, a young boy who she suspects is gay and whose parents are very conservatively religious. Fans of children's literature will have fun with many references to books such as "If you give a librarian a closet...".

Jan 23, 2013

I really enjoyed reading this well-written book. The plot was a little implausible and as I was nearing the end I was thinking that the ending would have to kind of lame, but I was pleasantly surprised.

May 28, 2012

Fun and fresh first novel. The 10 year old Ian character is utterly charming. The whole topic of "gay therapy" and "ex-gay ministries" have been getting attention in the news lately, too, and the APA recognizes them as psychologically abusive. Very book and story-centric, which suited me just fine.

Apr 14, 2012

This book was a bit of a disappointment. The premise was really promising, but the plot moved at a glacial pace and the characters weren't interesting enough in themselves to sustain my interest. I made it to the end of the book out of sheer determination, rather than enjoyment. Ostensibly a book for book lovers, there were some interesting devices used. I liked the little chapters that mirrored aspects of the plot but in the format of different popular children's books, such as Eric Carle's "the Very Hungry Caterpillar." Even the title of the book alluded to another childhood favourite "The Borrowers." The parallels drawn between the main character's father running away from Soviet Russia and her own flight from the small town she lived in broke up an otherwise very slow plot.

View All Comments


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Subject Headings


Find it at CHPL

To Top