Book review – The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai

Lucy is a 26-year-old librarian, whose life is at a bit of a standstill. She lives alone above a little theatre and finds herself in a relationship she is altogether indifferent to.

Ten-year-old Ian spends every spare minute in Lucy’s library, but his God-fearing mother censors what he reads, and Lucy finds herself worrying about Ian, especially when she
borrfinds out that she is sending him to a Pastor to make him less ‘gay’. Then one morning she discovers Ian camped out in the library and finds herself unwittingly on a road trip with him. She feels guilty about what she is doing, but finds herself unable to turn back…

I liked the two main characters in this story – Lucy is frustrating and Ian is annoying but it kind of works! It is a bit of a slow burner at times but you do wonder what is going to happen to this odd couple, and I found myself really rooting for it to work out somehow.

There is also a sub-plot about Lucy’s Russian family which actually works well in contrast to the main story that unfolds, and I think it was good for the book to have a separate angle.

Overall I really enjoyed this book, and I loved the references to children’s books that run throughout the story. I also liked the library setting and the interesting assortment of characters that works there with Lucy. It had its funny moments but it was also really poignant, and you did feel for poor Ian and really wonder how life would turn out for him. The novel is a bit quirky and different, and I would definitely read more by Makkai.

My rating: 8 out of 10



  1. Have you read her newest novel “The Hundred Year House”? I just finished it about a month ago and really enjoyed it. It’s about a couple who moves into the carriage house of the wife’s mother and the secrets that the house (and everyone living there) hold. I had never read a book by Rebecca Makkai, but had heard rave reviews for “The Borrower” so I’m glad you gave it a good review. It’s on my to-read list!


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