Monday, April 30

Book Review: The Book Borrower


Title: The Book Borrower

Author: Alice Mattison

Pages: 278

Summary: On the first page of The Book Borrower, Toby Ruben and Deborah Laidlaw meet in 1975 in a city playground, where the two women are looking after their babies. Deborah lends Toby a book, Trolley Girl - a memoir about a long-ago trolley strike and three Jewish sisters, one a fiery revolutionary - that will appear, disappear, and return throughout the years in which the women are friends
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Through two decades Deborah and Toby raise their children, embark on teaching careers, and argue about politics, education, and their own lives. One day during a hike, they have an argument that cannot be resolved - and the two women take different and permanent paths - but it is ultimately the borrowed book that will bring them back together. With sensitivity and grace, Alice Mattison shows how books can rescue us from our deepest sorrows; how the events of the outside world play into our private lives; and how the bonds between women are enduring, mysterious and laced with surprise.

My Rating: 4/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: The author used an original way to tell the story, although this took a sometime to get used to, I thought it was a very unique way to tell parallel story lines. But, the book quickly turned for me, and I found it to be boring and drawn out. Finding the powerful friendship elements of the story to be lost in the telling of the story.

One of the issues I took with the book was the elements of the powers of friendship and that deep connection  of emotion that comes with friendship just didn't seem to be there. The book seems to be void of the exact thing the author was trying to show. I didn't get friendship from Deborah an Ruben's relationship - it seemed to be one sided and I didn't see the beautiful connection they were suppose to have. This could be partly due to how the characters were written and developed, as I didn't connect or really like them, but I still failed to see the friendship between the two characters.

Another issue I had with the book was how it was written, while it was more original, not using the traditional methods of quotations marks during dialogue and breaking up the story in a more traditional way affected my enjoyment of the story, as it took a while to get used to this and I think in this case, affected the natural flow of the book. I've seen similar methods work in other books, but it didn't do it for this particular book. The story itself was average to being with, but eventually began to feel forced, plot twist didn't seem to connect properly, how characters of the book exited just didn't work for me. Not to mention, the reveal of who one character was, seemed to come from out of left field, I would have been much happier had that character stayed in more of the back drop/parallel story - although I did find I enjoyed the story of the "Trolley Girl" more than the actual story.

I did enjoy the first part of the book where there were two parallel stories going on at once. The main story, and the story from the book Ruben is reading, Trolley Girl. This did take a while to get used to as it jumped from one to the other, sometimes in mid sentence of the other story, but I thought it was an interesting idea, and if it was executed better it could have been a spectacular element to the book.
The book had some interesting and original elements to it, but in the end the book just didn't work for me.
Would I recommend it to read: I don't think I would, there are too many factors, (writing style, characterization etc) that affect the book and the reading experience.

What to read next: I haven't a clue what I'd recommended, no titles come to mind. I guess books that take place during the time period.




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