I thoroughly enjoyed everything about “The Borrower.” This was a book where the description given by the publisher was too focused on the actual plot rather than on the essence of the story. The adventure revolved around a spontaneous road trip when librarian Lucy Hull inadvertently drives ten-year old Ian around the country when he runs away from home. I thought that sounded random and sort of boring, but the novel has so much more heart to it than can be described! Lucy and Ian are likable characters that drew me in from the first few pages. Ian and Lucy become friends through conversations at the library where Lucy nurtures Ian by recommending different books to him. She learns that his parents think he is gay and are making him attend a religious class with other boys so that he can be taught to be straight. So when Lucy finds him hiding in the library, she tries to help him, not kidnap him!
Lucy’s good intentions are a driving force for her actions, and with each chapter her compassion and sympathy for Ian expounds. All the crazy characters surrounding Lucy only help Ian’s plight, but in unexpected ways. Ian is a great character because he is sharp and articulate, well beyond his ten years of age. I loved the lists of things ten-year olds do that could be found every few chapters, like how a ten-year old brushes his teeth. This was a great example of a book where everything ties together, and nothing is unimportant. The adventure reminded me a lot of “Where’d You Go Bernadette,” with zanny characters who do unexpected things. The themes of friendship and humanity emerged in honest ways through the excellent writing. I wasn’t sure what I wanted the ending to be, and I am both satisfied and unsatisfied with it. It was touching, but in a sad way because it showed how sometimes good intentions will not be enough to change circumstances of life. I liked that the author managed to take a humorous approach to serious subjects that were thought-provoking.
Anyone who loves books, and loves when books are the focus of a novel (think “Guernsey”) would really appreciate the role literature played in this plot. This was another one of my favorite reads this year.