The Goldfinch — Review

June 27, 2014

Oh my God you guys this book. I have such mixed feelings about it. And that’s really the main take-away of this book: so. many. feelings.

Our story follows Theo Decker and a priceless painting — the titular Goldfinch. Theo and the Goldfinch survive a horrific incident that kills many, leaving our “hero” effectively an orphan and bringing the painting into his possession.

Theo bounces around from the hoity-toity Upper East Side dwelling of a wealthy friend, to the outskirts of Las Vegas with a devil-on-the-shoulder-esque Russian sidekick, down to the dusty Village antique store.

Maybe it’s pop psychology, but Theo seems somewhat stuck as the damaged 13 year old (possibly with PTSD) longing for the mother he’s lost and the mysterious girl he can’t have. He consistently makes the worst decisions. And yes, bad things happen that are legitimately out of his control, but especially as this saga moves into Theo’s adult years it becomes a bit more difficult to sympathize — mostly because you just want to smack him. Or was that just me?

And the thing is, this book just takes so long to get anywhere. Donna Tartt knows how to bring the feels and this combination makes the reading experience emotionally exhausting (and kind of physically exhausting as well — that book is heavy).

There are times when this book is a slog and times when it’s absolutely riveting.

I kind of can’t tell if this was a positive or negative review and therefore I have no idea if this will be helpful to anyone. The Goldfinch is masterfully written. Tartt’s characters jump off of the page and her scenes are filled with powerful language and suspense. Hopefully I’ve given you some idea of what to expect if you decide to tackle this tome. Overall I’m glad that I read it, but I’m not sure I’ll be rereading it any time soon.


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