The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
Updated: Apr 10
"It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a thirteen-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend.
Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don't know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.
As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love-and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle." (From the Publisher)
Every once in a while a book comes along that completely levels you. For whatever reason, it takes hold of you and doesn't let go ... even after you've closed the back cover on its final words.
I'm going to begin here — this review will not be unbiased.
This book moved me. Deep within my soul. Some may think I'm crazy and absolutely did not get what was so intriguing about this book. Or, perhaps, they resonated with this heartbreaking story in the exact same way that I did. But regardless of your opinion, this book accomplished exactly what good art should. It led me deeper into the gaze of the good, the true, and the beautiful.
And, that is all that matters.
If Tartt's story were a cake, it would be the richest, most delicate chocolate. From the characters, to the story, to the symbolism, to the literary devices, to the cultural references and syntax, this book wasn't just about being entertained. It was about a conversation with time, loss, friendship, family, the divine. From the very first page, I entered the world of Theo Dekker and I existed within it. I breathed the same air, touched the same people, and considered my impact on the world around me steeped within the discovery of the purpose for my life.
This book was by no means neat and tidy, for that was exactly the point. Life is messy. Love is messy. Growth is painful. People hurt you. People leave you. But, in the end, beauty remains.
And, beauty has the power to teach us so much.
Despite loving this book so much, I would not recommend it to everyone. It is a dense literary novel (not to mention the softcover copy stands at over 950 pages). If you are an aficionado of the classics and consider literary analysis to be an enjoyable hobby, definitely read this book... AND THEN talk with me about it. Haha. If that is not you, I caution you... you may hate it for simply no other reason than it's a heavy lifter.
And, also interesting note (after reading various reviews) people in the critical literary world (think The New Yorker, New York Times, Vanity Fair, etc.) hated this book, which I find SO interesting. They didn't think it was "enough" and was "deeply flawed," even likening it to a children's novel. (So bizarre... I'd be concerned what they'd think of my favorite books.)
So, if you're in the middle ground of those two camps: Read solely for quick & easy entertainment & harsh literary critic, you're in the best camp for receiving this book well.
a large amount of drug use, death of a parents, strong language, and a brief scene of gun violence.
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