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6th June
2011
written by Steph
June is a pretty kickass month for new books, if I do say so myself. For this month's issue of BookPage, I got to read a fabulous debut novel AND a stunning sequel by an author who is much loved by book-bloggers, so to say that I was pretty spoiled with the books I got to review is an understatement.

Simply put, The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai is something that no book lover should miss. It may sound weird to say that a book that essentially revolves around an unintended kidnapping is both funny and sweet, but that's exactly what you get with this book. It features a children's librarian named Lucy who has the best of intentions, even if her life is kind of a huge mess. The icing on the cake occurs when she accidentally absconding with one of her favorite library patrons, Ian, who has an overbearing and extremely religious mother who would rather he spent his time playing sports instead of reading, especially when his book selections tend to veer towards those more appropriate for girls or devil worshippers. Together, Lucy and Ian embark on an unexpected adventure that will have you both smiling as well as reaching for your tissues. Especially delightful were all of the literary references that are scattered throughout The Borrower and I defy any book lover to read this book and not find yourself somewhere in these pages. If you've ever felt that books are so powerful that they can save lives, you must read this book! But for now, read my full review here!

Existing fans of Lisa See will probably not need to hear my thoughts on her latest novel, Dreams of Joy, before rushing out to buy the sequel to See's immensely popular novel, Shanghai Girls, but in case you're new to the See bandwagon (sit next to me! This was my first book by her!), or are just looking for a little taster to whet your appetite, you can read my review here. See does a great job of realizing the alien nature of China for her readers, but still manages to make the country and its people accessible to Western readers, which is no small feat. This is one of those pieces of fiction where you feel like you've learned more than any textbook or piece of non-fiction writing could impart, and is definitely a great way to armchair travel. As an added bonus, I also did a Q&A with Lisa See about her new book (amongst other things), so for those of you looking for some "behind the scenes" insights, look no further!

15 Comments

  1. 06/07/2011

    Rebecca Makai’s ‘The Borrower’ definitely looks interesting, Steph! Thanks for writing about it! I read your longer review in BookPage and liked it very much. I want to read this book now 🙂

    Lisa See’s new book looks interesting because it is set during a critical period of recent Chinese history. I enjoyed reading the interview you did with Lisa See. One of the things she says which really caught my eye was this – “Is it one of the most advanced countries in the world in terms of gender equality or is it a place where people give up their daughters for adoption?” I once went to a Chinese friend’s home in a small town in China and I was extremely impressed with what I saw there – his mother was lighting a cigarette and having a conversation while his dad was mopping the floor. What I saw over the next few days was an eye-opener for me. It will be an understatement to say that I was impressed with the gender equality there!

  2. 06/07/2011

    I am pathetically behind–I haven’t even read Shanghai Girls yet! I agree though that June has had some great book releases so far!

  3. 06/07/2011

    Steph, thanks for the heads up on Makkai’s book – it sounds like such a good read! I’ve added it to my list of books to buy and can’t wait to read it!

  4. 06/07/2011

    Oh, I have been excited about The Borrower for a few weeks now, and also am going to be reading the See book shortly as well. I will be interested to hear what you have to say about them, so I am off to check it out!

  5. Steph –

    I got a copy of Dreams of Joy and saw The Borrower there. I’m excited about both, especially the latter. It looks so fun.

    Heading to read your full reviews.

  6. 06/07/2011

    @ Vishy: I really really want to visit China one day! It seems like such an interesting country that it’s hard to appreciate from afar. I think given your own personal experiences there you would probably really like Lisa See’s new book!
     
    @ Stephanie: I hadn’t read Shanghai Girls when I read Dreams of Joy so when I said in my official review that it’s a book that works as both a sequel and a stand-alone read I think that’s true!
     
    @ Nadia: I really think you would love The Borrower so I hope you get a copy of it at some point. It’s so fun but sweet!
     
    @ zibilee: Oh, I can’t wait for you to read both of these books! I know you will love The Borrower and I am sure you’ll have plenty of fantastic insights to share on the See book as well. Happy reading!
     
    @ jenn: The Borrower really is fun, and I was quite skeptical about it going in but it totally converted me. I was really moved by it and think it will be quite popular amongst book bloggers. I hope you enjoy both books!
     
    @ Wallace: I look forward to reading reviews of Dreams of Joy from people who have read Shanghai Girls as I’m sure having that backstory really adds to the whole experience.

  7. 06/07/2011

    Those both sound so GOOD. I am a loyal Lisa See fan, so I will definitely be picking up the new book. I actually didn’t know it was a sequel to Shanghai Girls, though! It will be interesting to see what happens in this new one.

  8. Pam
    06/07/2011

    I think I’ve been well overexplosed to the lovely Lisa See, at this point but I’ve never heard of the Borrower. They both look splendid, though.

  9. 06/07/2011

    I hope you get to visit China one day, Steph. It is a really fascinating country! I really enjoyed reading your interview with Lisa See and the way she describes how China is a bundle of contradictions when she says – “On any given day, any stereotype can be accurate, even in this country.” I love the way you pose questions to the writers you interview and tease out some interesting replies and insights like this 🙂

  10. 06/07/2011

    I’ve added The Borrower to my (very long) TBR list, it sounds great. Thank you for the review.

  11. 06/10/2011

    The Borrower looks so good, so I’m glad to see that you liked it! I’m on a slightly quirky book kick (not too strange, but kind of charmingly odd, if that makes sense), and I can see this one fitting right in.

  12. 06/12/2011

    @ Pam: Yes, I didn’t much expect that people would need my post to alert them to a new Lisa See book, but I figured that since I had written the review, there might be a few people out there who would find it of interest!
     
    @ Vishy: I am definitely planning to visit China in the future! When Tony and I do our RTW trip, China is one of the places where we will spend some time. Also, I am so glad you enjoyed the Q&A with Lisa See so much! I thought she gave some very interesting answers.
     
    @ Joanne: The Borrower was awesome! I hope you enjoy it!
     
    @ softdrink: If quirky books are your poison of late, then you will find much to enjoy in The Borrower. It is certainly not over the top in any of its elements, but it is also not run of the mill. If you do check it out, I look forward to reading your thoughts on it.

  13. 06/14/2011

    Two lovely looking books, both of which are new to me. I’ve read quite a few reviews of Lisa See’s first book and have her on my wishlist, but I’m definitely putting The Borrower on it too. Anything to do with books and libraries and I’m all over it like a rash.

  14. 06/15/2011

    @ sakura: Pretty much I felt the same way you did: any book that focuses on libraries or children who LOVE books is one that I’m going to have to read!

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