LisaW, January 4, 2012 (view all comments by LisaW)
Inspiring and insipid, the heroine (can you call her that?) of the book makes you laugh, and groan. Her journey with 10 year old Ian, however, leaves you rooting for both of them. And her denouement for the issue underlying her quest leaves you smiling (and feeling like there just isn't enough time to read great books!!!!). A fun read which could not be put down. Definitely my favorite book published in 2011.
The Book Goddess, November 13, 2011 (view all comments by The Book Goddess)
I'm not sure exactly what to say about this book..it was off-beat and quirky. Definitely an original plot and a unique way of telling a story. As a lover of all things books, I really enjoyed the many book references that were sprinkled throughout the story. I'm still on the fence about how I feel about the main character, Lucy. Through most of the book I was thinking to myself "What is wrong with her, she is an adult..." I was a little disappointed with the lack of development in the other characters, but in restropect, that was probably done on purpose in order to keep the story focused on Lucy and Ian. Overall, I liked the book but I definitely don't see it being mainstream popular.(
This is an engaging, whimsical story of an unlikely connection between a twenty-something, disaffected children’s librarian in Hannibal, MO, Lucy Hull, and the bookish, precocious ten-year-old, Ian Drake. Lucy has grown fond of the quirky Ian during his regular visits to the library, but is appalled when his anorexic, obsessive mother Janet insists that Ian needs to read books “with the breath of God in them.” His mother finds Ian’s “sensitivity” so discomforting that she enrolls him in a program in Pastor Bob’s Glad Heart Ministries that is “dedicated to the rehabilitation of sexually confused brothers and sisters.”
Despite the mother’s heavy handedness, Lucy is quite surprised when she comes in early one morning and discovers that Ian has spent the night in the library. However, given that Lucy is, in a sense, a runaway from her Mount Holyoke education and a life of privilege, it is not too surprising that the story takes a fantastical turn as Ian diverts Lucy, with her hardly unwilling acquiescence, from taking him home to the beginnings of a multi-state, troubling journey.
Reality sets in rather quickly. Is there a destination, not to mention, a goal? Basic practicalities quickly arise, such as funding an apparently aimless journey. But that consideration pales in comparison to the possibilities of Lucy facing kidnapping charges. Mostly because there is no plan, she and Ian, under a pretense, visit her Russian, immigrant father in Chicago, who helps her with money and, more importantly, starts her thinking about what it means to escape a situation. At one point Lucy wonders, “Are prolonged stress and the life of the fugitive perhaps more damaging to the child psyche than being raised by an overbearing anorexic evangelical?”.
The book is primarily one long meditation on the possibilities of fundamentally changing lives and life versus the pull of one’s roots. But Lucy admits, “I no longer believe I can save people. I’ve tried, and I’ve failed …. But books, on the other hand: I do still believe that books can save you,” spoken as a librarian. Both Lucy and Ian are appealing characters; their attempts at escape are trying, but are not without amusing, odd aspects.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No (1 of 1 readers found this comment helpful)
Lucy is a children's librarian who one day, sort of accidentally, takes her work home with her. Actually, she kidnaps one of her regular readers — well, perhaps not kidnaps, but something very close to that, only not so malevolent. Ten-year-old Ian suffers at the hands of his fundamentalist parents (although it's not exactly crystal clear how), and he runs away. Somehow he manages to drag Lucy with him. As they spend 10 days wandering aimlessly through several states, leaving mountains of lies behind them, Lucy questions her sanity as well as her ethics. They soon begin to run out of funds and realize they are being followed, and it seems that this story can only end badly. Yet, eventually, one thing becomes clear: sometimes the worst choice turns out to be the best choice. Very tenderly told, this is a sweet tale of books, family, identity, and surprisingly, love.
"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"Makkai shows promise in her overworked debut, an occasionally funny crime farce about a hapless librarian — cum — accidental kidnapper. Lucy Hull is a 26-year-old whose rebellion against her wealthy Russian mafia parents has taken the form of her accepting a children's librarian job in small-town Missouri. After an unnecessarily long-winded first act, the novel picks up when Lucy discovers her favorite library regular, 10-year-old Ian Drake, hiding out in the stacks one morning after having run away from his evangelical Christian parents, who censor his book choices and are preemptively sending him to SSAD (Same-Sex Attraction Disorder) rehab, and Lucy soon aids and abets his escape. The tale of their subsequent jaunt across several state lines dodging cops, a persistent suitor of Lucy's, and a suspicious black-haired pursuer is fast-paced, suspenseful, and thoroughly enjoyable — the real meat of the book. Unfortunately, the padding around the adventure too often feels like preaching to the choir (censorship is bad, libraries and independent booksellers are good) and the frequent references to children's books — including a 'choose-your-own adventure' interlude — quickly go from cute to irritating. There's great potential, but it's buried in unfortunate fluff. (June)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
by Library Journal,
"[Lucy's] relationship with Ian is charming and original...A stylish and clever tale for bibliophiles who enjoy authors like Jasper Fforde and Connie Willis."
by Kirkus Reviews,
"Makkai takes several risks in her sharp, often witty text, replete with echoes of children's classics from Goodnight Moon to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, as well as more ominous references to Lolita...the moving final chapters affirm the power of books to change people's lives even as they acknowledge the unbreakable bonds of home and family. Smart, literate and refreshingly unsentimental."
In this delightful, funny, and moving first novel, a librarian and a young boy obsessed with reading take to the road.
A spellbinding short story collection from a master of the form, the acclaimed author of The Hundred-Year House
Rebecca Makkais first two novels, The Borrower and The Hundred-Year House have established her as one of the freshest and most imaginative voices in fiction. Now, the acclaimed writer returns with a highly anticipated collection of short stories marked with her signature mix of intelligence, wit, and heart.
A reality show producer manipulates two contestants into falling in love, while her own relationship falls apart. Just after the fall of the Berlin Wall, a young boy has a revelation about his fathers past when a renowned Romanian violinist plays a concert in their home. In an unnamed country, a composer records the folk songs of two women from a village on the brink of destruction.
Makkai has been anthologized four times in The Best American Short Stories as well as The Best American Nonrequired Reading. These wide-ranging and deeply moving stories—some inspired by her family history—will delight her many fans, as well as readers of Lorrie Moore, Jim Shepard, and Karen Russell.
"Rarely is a first novel as smart and engaging and learned and funny and moving as The Borrower." —Richard Russo, author of Pulitzer Prize–winning Empire Falls
Lucy Hull, a children’s librarian in Hannibal, Missouri, finds herself both kidnapper and kidnapped when her favorite patron, ten-year-old Ian Drake, runs away from home. Ian needs Lucy’s help to smuggle books past his overbearing mother, who has enrolled Ian in weekly antigay classes. Desperate to save him from the Drakes, Lucy allows herself to be hijacked by Ian when she finds him camped out in the library after hours, and the odd pair embarks on a crazy road trip. But is it just Ian who is running away? And should Lucy be trying to save a boy from his own parents?
Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at Powells.com.