The Goldfinch

By Donna Tartt
Year: 2013

I am a slow reader. I don’t even want to admit how long it took me to read this Pulizer Prize Winning book. Let’s just say, it’s gone on several vacations with me: the book got around. Why did it take me so long? Well, first of all, it’s 784 pages. I remember when I picked it up thinking, “Crap, it’s really heavy.” But I’m a person that likes books not kindles. It’s also not an easy read. Not that it’s challenging, but it’s somewhat emotionally exhausting. And I admit, it’s not what I expected it to be.

Most of the books centers on the life of a teenager named Theodore Decker. A teenager who is a complete mess unlike any teenager that I have known.  Theo lives with his mother who he adores. On a visit to the Met to see her favorite painting, Carel Fabritius’s The Goldfinch, there is an explosion. Theo’s survives but tragically, his mother dies. Thus begins the downward spiral of his life–partially due to these circumstances, but also because of the choices that Theo makes. If he can make a bad choice, he will. But, besides being a tragic, lonely character, there’s something so sweet and endearing about him. As ugly as his life gets, he’s capable of seeing beauty in it. I came to really like him–flaws and all.

About a third of the way through, he makes the best friend that he’ll ever have. His Ukrainian friend, Boris, who is also tragic…even more so. But he’s loyal and the only constant in Theo’s life. And that’s when I knew I had to keep reading. I had to know how it all ended. I needed closure.  And so I stuck with it.

If you’re a reader that enjoys character development, this is the book for you. From the wealthy, reserved, Mrs. Barbour, who takes Theo in after his mother dies to the gentle, quiet, eccentric father figure Welty that he meets later on, the characters in this book are so engaging. All of their worlds are rather limited and lonely but for the connections that they have with each other. No, don’t read this book to if you’re looking for a light read and need to be uplifted. Read it if you have an appreciation for the fragility of life, the expected turns that it can take and beautiful prose.

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Author: Heather Zachariah

Former Art Director for Home Magazine and Caribbean Travel & Life, Heather is chauffeur to 3 busy kids; the president of her Home and School Association; and VP of Marketing for TipsFromTown. And she's passionate about all 3!


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