Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Why Check Out The Borrower?

If you would like to read THE book about a librarian you need to read The Giant's House by Elizabeth McCracken. It is a moving, funny, sarcastic, glorious novel about a 1950's small town New England librarian who falls in love with an eleven year old boy who keeps growing and growing and growing. Theirs is a singular relationship to say the least. I am crazy about this novel. It is a wondrous story skillfully told by a talented writer. A gem.
Now there is a new librarian novel in town called The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai but like all pretenders to the throne it makes promises it cannot keep. Makkai brings on the quirk with a powerful, book loving bond between a children's librarian, Lucy, who dreams of making a difference and a ten year old boy, Ian. The boy's evangelical parents (Remember the rules say evangelical always equals bad.) have enrolled him in an anti-gay program. Lucy takes that as a sign he is from an abusive home and needs saving. The result? Lucy kidnaps Ian.
The one saving grace for me in The Borrower were all the fun literary references. They do reward the well read.
Ultimately though the quirky turns to creepy. Makkai isn't able to whip up the prerequisite amount of charm needed to make the jump from the friendship of two lonely book lovers to a PG rated Thelma and Louise road trip believable enough to work.
I can't help feeling that if Lucy had been a High School aged babysitter instead of an adult librarian The Borrower might have turned out a whole more rewarding. Not to mention convincing.

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