Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Revolutionary Librarian

The Borrower
by Rebecca Makkai
Viking Adult
June 9, 2011
ISBN:  0670022810

The Borroweris a road book, whose heroine, Lucy Hull, is a revolutionary in librarian's clothing.  Says Lucy, "I come from a long line of revolutionaries."  Lucy's father, an émigré from the old Soviet Union, is a member of the Russian mafia, who taught her early on to steal dry cleaning, UPS packages, and milk from other people's doorsteps.  Her descent into crime seems inevitable.

Lucy's job as a children's librarian in Missouri hasn't much to recommend it save a ten-year-old patron, Ian Drake, whose overbearing mother censors his library books and forces him to attend anti-gay classes with Pastor Bob.  Ian's mother gives Lucy a list of things Ian must not read; Lucy ignores the list and takes it upon herself to guide Ian's reading, even checking out the books on her own card in order to deceive Ian's mother.

When Ian runs away from home, he runs to the library, and Lucy inadvertently kidnaps him.  The pair embark on a journey from Missouri to Chicago to Pittsburgh to Vermont.  Though the novel is marketed for adults, high school students and precocious middle schoolers will also enjoy the travels of Lucy, the revolutionary librarian, and Ian, her reader apprentice.

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