Tuesday Salon, anyone?


Maybe it's not technically laziness, but never mind the excuse. I'm arriving late to the party once again. But you would not believe the traffic.

Books. Anyone else get that same little shiver up the spine (HAHA!) or am I coming down with something? Maybe I should cover up. Put on a jacket.

Or maybe I should just shut up and get on with it.




The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai

Viking, June 2011


"Lucy Hull, a young children's librarian in Hannibal, Missouri, finds herself both a kidnapper and kidnapped when her favorite patron, ten- year-old Ian Drake, runs away from home. The precocious Ian is addicted to reading, but needs Lucy's help to smuggle books past his overbearing mother, who has enrolled Ian in weekly antigay classes with celebrity Pastor Bob. Lucy stumbles into a moral dilemma when she finds Ian camped out in the library after hours with a knapsack of provisions and an escape plan. Desperate to save him from Pastor Bob and the Drakes, Lucy allows herself to be hijacked by Ian. The odd pair embarks on a crazy road trip from Missouri to Vermont, with ferrets, an inconvenient boyfriend, and upsetting family history thrown in their path. But is it just Ian who is running away? Who is the man who seems to be on their tail? And should Lucy be trying to save a boy from his own parents?"


Have you seen the way a cat reacts when you throw down a pinch of catnip? Imagine the cat is a human (SEE: librarian, female) and the catnip is this book. Now, throw it down on the floor in front of me. You may want to look away. Then again, you may not.


That lovely mental image was pretty much my reaction when I read the cover blurb from this book. Slack jaw, string of drool, glassy eyes, followed by rolling all over the floor, meowing madly. Disturbing? Yes. A bit. With appropriate counseling you'll get past it, like I did.

I wanted to read this book so badly I deferred it until now. I realize that sounds nonsensical. I wanted to read it, so I didn't? But once I'd read it I wouldn't have it to look forward to anymore. It would have already been done. Never again could I read this book for the first time. I skimmed the first few pages, maybe the first chapter, saw how worthwhile it was going to be, then immediately stuck it behind the GREAT BOOK BARRIER REEF in my family room. Out of sight out of mind, right? It bought me a couple months, at least until most of the hoopla about it quieted down.

I was right to put it away. When I pulled it out again last week it was all the sweeter. The early reviewers had done their stuff, selling the book's wonderfulness to all the early readers who dig this crazy, nerdy sort of thing. It was just me and this wonderful book. All alone.

(I believe I hear a violin playing softly in the distance.)

The publisher's summary (above, courtesy of Amazon.com) makes it sound like a goofy book. Parts of it are, but on the whole it's actually a little more serious. That's not a bad thing. You kind of want to see that in a book about kidnapping, even if it is consensual. Not that kidnapping is ever right. Except, maybe, when it is. Oh, go read a book on ethics.

The road trip is a great ride. Literally. Ian's every inch the obnoxiously spirited 10-year old, full of curiosity and way, way too much energy. He's hilarious, just a joy to be with. And, while Lucy adores him, never expressing any irritation with his spasticity (?), she's also a grown woman lacking real direction, confused about her place in the world. Her worry about Ian, about how this little boy's being raised, may have some legitimacy, but following that impulse to run away with him… That's a little sticky.

Still, Rebecca Makkai manages to sell it. Just when you're starting to think, "Now she'll stumble and I'll get angry with the book for its complete lack of reality, toss it aside and cry copious tears,"  guess what? She never makes one misstep, never fumbles a detail. She plots flawlessly, creates loveable, living, breathing characters you can't help wanting to hug, even if you do want to give Lucy a little slap sometimes.

It's just that ending… But I can't tell you that now, can I?

Just read it. If the summary raises your blood pressure like it did mine, just read the thing. Feel free to message me, comment here without spoilers, email me if you feel the need to scream WTF? And if you've read it you'll know.

And you need to read it.




But now, dears, I am out of time. When your back was turned I had to throw in some laundry. Now, lunches for tomorrow need to be made. I didn't get to any of the other books I've been reading or have finished since my last update, and, yes, I was already behind then. I apologize most abjectly.

Until next time, when I may or may not catch up catching up. Just don't bet the farm on it.



The Chicago Tribune

Publishers Weekly


The Blogs:

The Book Frog



Rebecca Makkai

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