As a book and library lover, I could not miss a book about library, books, love of reading, and a librarian as the main character. The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai is a heartfelt and delightful story. The novel is full of references of children’s literature – book lovers will love this!
Lucy Hull is a 26 year old children's librarian in a small library in Hannibal, Missouri. She enjoys her work and has a special bond with one of library’s young visitors - a 10 year old Ian Drake. Ian is an avid reader and a little flamboyant. Ian’s parents are very religious and restrict his reading, excluding a lot of children’s classics, books about magic, weaponry, evolution and Halloween. His parents are also concerned about Ian’s sexuality, so they enroll him in anti-gay classes with celebrity Pastor Bob. One day Ian runs away from home, hides in the library where Lucy discovers him. Instead of contacting Ian’s parents or police she leaves the town with Ian and both go on a road trip without a destination.
A boy and a librarian on the run: one escapes from his parents and another from herself. During the journey both Ian and Lucy learn a lot about themselves. Self-doubted and insecure Lucy (sometimes I wanted to shake her to get her motivated!) starts understanding herself, her family, and her roots. Lucy’s passion for reading and libraries, her Russian origin, her parents’ Soviet past and immigrant experience made her relatable to me.
Lucy may not have a library degree but she is a librarian by nature. Only a true librarian will smuggle reading lists for the next 8 years of a child’s life! I agree with Lucy when she said: "I do still believe that books can save you.” Do you believe, dear Reader, that books can save?
The Borrower reminded me of:
The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
Specimen Days by Michael Cunningham
The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly