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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Unexpected Attraction

Sometimes I really do not want to read certain books. I felt that way about A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (based on Siobahn Dowd's ideas and manuscript), but I really loved the honesty and portrayal of a young boy facing his mother's death. I feel that way still about Unbroken. It was sitting next to my nightstand until last week when I determined I just could not read about the horrors described in its pages. I was certain I would not like Rebecca Makkai's The Borrower, but my teaching partner convinced me to read it. It is right now next to my computer and the bowl of cookie dough I am baking. I catch a few paragraphs in between dough scoops.

Lucy Hull is a children's librarian who encounters an avid reader named Ian. Though Ian voraciously reads anything she recommends, his controlling mother brings her a list of the books and authors he should read in order to experience "the breath of God." Lucy sneaks books to Ian, and he transports them in his pants and parka, always avoiding his nanny and mother. Lucy is torn about First Amendment rights and the need to patronize her patron's mother. When she can no longer stand to witness the ways the young boy's mind is being tortured by his parents and the church, she does the unthinkable.

Intermingled with Ian's and Lucy's story are snippets from books, familiar titles, and references to characters and plot lines. The author even ends one chapter with a nod to Ludwig Bemelmans:

In a library in Missouri that was covered with vines
Lived thousands of books in a hundred straight lines
A boy came in at half past nine
Every Saturday, rain or shine
His book selections were clan-des-tine.


  1. a perfect choice of image to go with this post.

  2. Those librarians! You better watch out for them, or else they might open up your child's mind!