The Borrower (Penguin, $15), by Rebecca Makkai, is a charming tale of the cockamamie road trip of a librarian and her favorite ten-year-old patron. Librarian Lucy Hull is both kidnapper and kidnapped when Ian, precocious and stifled by his family, blackmails Lucy into driving him across the country. This humorous novel has children’s story elements and a cast of characters that includes Russian mobsters, ferrets, and the ghosts of the Green Mountain Boys. Makkai’s debut novel is smartly written and wise as Lucy considers the many moral and legal conundrums she has gotten herself into. In this, the season of road trips, The Borrower is a novel not to be missed by anyone who has ever wished to run away with books—or maybe with their favorite librarian or bookseller.
In The Lovers (Ecco, $13.99) the recently widowed Yvonne flees her self-conscious grief and the doting of friends and neighbors for Datça, Turkey, where she spent her honeymoon with her husband, Peter, twenty-five years earlier. As Yvonne attempts to recapture the love she felt for Peter, she runs up against distressing memories that challenge her wish to dwell on only the happy moments of her relationship: the lack of physical intimacy in the later years of her marriage and the pair’s disagreement about how to handle their substance-abusing daughter, Aurelia. When Yvonne forms an odd friendship with a quiet, young boy selling seashells at a nearby beach, Vendela Vida’s subtle exploration of grief, love, and relationships offers both heartbreak and redemption.
With his evocative and haunting prose, Simon Van Booy spins the tale of three characters whose lives intersect in Greece. Fans of his short stories (Love Begins in Winter and The Secret Lives of People in Love) will find his trademark theme of human connection in Everything Beautiful Began After (Perennial, $14.99), Van Booy’s first full-length novel. The book focuses on Rebecca, who moves to Athens to escape her life back in France; Henry, an English archeology student; and George, an American with an extraordinary gift for ancient languages and a terrible case of alcoholism. The three come together by pure chance, and through their individual relationships and their unique group dynamic, discover love and acceptance despite the terrible tragedy that eventually tears them apart. Angela Maria Williams