The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai - Jun 2011 LTER
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I'm afraid I'm the spoilsport for this book. Most reviewers seemed to love it, and I loved the premise of it, as unlikely as it was. A young librarian kidnaps a young boy, at the boy's request, and they go off on a road trip with no real plan for what happens next. The reason is that the fundamentalist Christian parents of the boy might be abusing him, and his mother heavily censors his reading material. The librarian suspects that the child might be gay and his parents will try to "correct" that because of their religion.
Yep, that could have have a very interesting book. It just didn't work for me. The protagonist, Lucy the Librarian, was so judgmental and self-righteous that I just couldn't like her. She abdicated her responsibilities to the child, Ian. Mix self-righteous with wishy-washy, and you get someone who makes some really stupid decisions.
My view of this audio book was also colored by the reader. Her voice just didn't sound right for most of the characters, and detracted from rather than added to my enjoyment.
I've posted the lowest rating on LT for this book, something I certainly don't like to do. On another site, the only rating lower is from someone who thinks the book is "anti-Christian." My liberal or conservative leanings aren't why I didn't like the book - I just didn't like the way the story was told. But, as I mentioned before, I am definitely in the minority. There were some bright spots, and other readers may enjoy this book much ore than I did.
I wish I had liked the story more because I really liked the premise of it.
This is a very odd unbelievable story as our children’s librarian tries to help out 10 year old Ian who may or may not be gay but his Christian parent’s think he may be so they send him to an anti-gay Minister/treatment and only want him to read God-filled stories. This author does have a good grasp on children’s literature with the quotes and characters from other books, however as a librarian not so much. When Ian runs away to the library and ends up in Lucy’s car they end up on a road trip and this where this story goes off the rails for me. Lucy talks about oh what I’m doing is wrong but she doesn’t take the boy home just because his parents don’t let him read the books he wants to read??I’m sorry as a librarian I am all for Intellectual freedom but I also believe that it is a parents right to decide what their child reads He Is 10 years old and who are you as a 20 something children’s librarian to decide what is good for him? I felt she was helping enough letting him read what he wanted while he was in the library and helping him smuggle out books but the whole road trip/kidnapping was just going too far.
Lucy and Ian are both a bit annoying and actually unsympathetic and I found it really hard to continue with this book but since I received this as an Early Review Copy I must finish, between the story, the characters and the Audiobook narrator this is really hard to keep going. Honestly I have tried 4 times to finish this one because I have to stop for awhile and get away from the grating voice and whiny narrator.
I listened to this on audio and I just want to clarify I listen to a lot of audiobooks in a month and I have heard some wonderful narrators unfortunately Emily Bauer isn’t one of them she sounded like a little kid while narrating Lucy then when she was doing the voice of Ian it was even worse and was extremely grating. If she was narrating as a child she may be ok but she is narrating the voice of an adult and sounds like a whiny preteen.
However her voice and the story grew on me… I wrote the above when I was half way through. The road trip as a whole had its cute parts but it was still really hard to understand why there wasn’t an amber alert and the parents weren’t on TV wringing their hands so I decided to kind of put it in my head it set in an earlier decade it was easier to suspend my thinking and just enjoy the story.
All in all this isn’t a bad book you just have to be willing to suspend your belief about the circumstances and just let the story tell itself.
Hovering between 2 ½ and 3 Stars
FYI My Rating System:
3 Stars- Good Book but some things didn't connect with me
2 1/2 Stars- just didn't connect to this book but was ok
Full Disclosure: I received this book from Librarything Early Reviewer Program
It's funny that some people seem to think that those who don't like this book are opposed to the liberal mindset, and assume that of me. Actually, the basis of the story appealed to me but the writing let me down. I am against general censorship but do think parents have a right to censor their young children's reading. And I am against "curing" gays, but the book didn't convince me that the parents were abusive. Misguided, yes, but that isn't the same thing.
I used to listen to lots of audio books when I had a long commute, but listen to fewer now. Still, I know that a good reader can elevate a mediocre story, and a bad reader can make the listening painful. I probably would have liked this book better if not for the combination of a self-righteous, unbelievable story and the grating voice of the reader. I'm afraid her voice never grew on me.
I posted my review on Amazon and received several "thumbs down" votes, which is what I pretty much expect when I post a negative review there. If my review is poor, I wish people would tell me why it was not helpful. But on Amazon, it seems that lots of reviews get negative votes based on whether the voter agreed with the conclusions of the reviewer or is a fan of the author, not whether the review was helpful. I like to discuss books, whether other readers agree with me or not, which is one of the reasons I love LT.