Lucy is just a normal 20-something, living in a small town and working as a children's librarian. Things are pretty humdrum - a potential romance here, some interactions with quirky neighbors there. The one consistently interesting part of Lucy's life is the young patron, 10 year old Ian Drake, who races to the children's area to devour any and all books that Lucy can loan him. Ian comes from a stifling household and his reading habits are closely monitored by his oppressive parents. One day, Lucy arrives early at work and finds Ian has managed to stay in the library overnight. What starts out as a trip to return Ian to his house turns into a road trip all across the Northeast. Lucy doesn't mean to kidnap Ian - it just turns out that way. As the two travel across many states, Lucy tries to figure out what in the hell she's just done (and what can she do now?!).As the trip continues, Lucy comes to grips with her actions and tries to rediscover what makes her tick.
Despite it's potentially creepy subject matter, The Borrower is actually quite a charming little story. Both Lucy and Ian are fairly fleshed out characters and readers can clearly sympathize with their decisions. Makkai throws in a ton of pop culture and literary references, such as Goodnight Moon and The Music Man. Lucy genuinely cares for Ian on a parental level (thus eliminating any references to Lolita) and just wants him to be happy. The two have such a sweet repetoire that in spite of the stupidity of their situation, you can't help but tag along with them on their adventure.