Book Review #44: The Book Borrower by Alice Mattison

29 Aug

This summer, I sublet an apartment in NYC from two professors. They had a wall to wall library filled with books on political science and education, with just one shelf of fiction. I had intended to tear through the shelf, but the only book I actually ended up reading from their small fiction selection was Alice Mattison’s The Book Borrower.

This book details the friendship between two women, from beginning to end. The book is told primarily in fragments of memory of the two women, Deborah and Toby. You see them meet, become fast friends, grow their families, attempt to grow their personal and professional lives, and slowly outgrow each other.  There’s intense jealousy in the friendship, as both women are teachers trying to make their way in a struggling market. There’s also jealousy over their marriages, their past times, and the new friends they make along the way.

This book shows the long, slow decline of friendships as we age. But what’s most striking is how trivial the things that chip away at friendship are. A missed meeting. Repeatedly being late. Jealousy over a promotion, or lack thereof. Just like with siblings, it’s almost impossible for friends not to compare their lives to each other, keeping a long running score of wins and losses.  Sometimes, it’s not until something dramatic happens that people realize how petty they’ve been. But it’s frequently too late.


One Response to “Book Review #44: The Book Borrower by Alice Mattison”


  1. HelloKatieO’s #CBR4 Review #44: The Book Borrower by Alice Mattison « Cannonball Read IV - August 29, 2012

    […] Read more… […]

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