Synopses & Reviews
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 storiessome inspired by her family historywill delight her many fans, as well as readers of Lorrie Moore, Jim Shepard, and Karen Russell.
"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.
"[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." Library Journal
"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." Kirkus Reviews
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 anti-gay 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?
In this delightful, funny, and moving first novel, a librarian and a young boy obsessed with reading take to the road.
"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?
About the Author
Rebecca Makkai is the author of the acclaimed novels The Hundred-Year House and The Borrower, an Indie Next pick, an O Magazine Fall Reading selection, a Booklist Top Ten Debut, and one of Chicago Magazine's choices for best fiction of 2011. Her work has appeared in The Best American Short Stories (2011, 2010, 2009 and 2008), Best American Nonrequired Reading, Harper's, McSweeney's, Tin House, Ploughshares, Iowa Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, and New England Review, among others, and has aired on "This American Life." She lives outside Chicago with her husband and two daughters.