The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai

This was enjoyable certainly, but I kept having the sense that it was overly constructed–that a plot identified at the outset that sounded cute was driving the thing even when it strained credibility. That’s okay–the plot is cute enough–but it ended up shortchanging the book. There were much more interesting things in there that perhaps this book really wanted to be about but they couldn’t fit inside the structure, so they just stayed in the background, dominated by the silly story.

The story about the father leaving Russia, about his daughter who’d long resisted his help needing it, learning his past, discovering that she was more like him than she thought–all of that is such better material than the stated premise (and much more the sort of thing I found in Makkai’s short stories).

The book also suffered from the narrator telling us too baldly what the realizations were and what the point is at various stops along the way. It’s a greater pleasure to simply let them emerge, to float up and settle on the readers who want them.

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