The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

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This book really felt like a biography, which I wasn’t entirely prepared for. We follow Theodore from his childhood into his adulthood, where large sections of the novel are devoted to each stage of his life. ‘Tragic’ doesn’t do justice to describing this boy’s life. Every other character seems to die or have misery somehow befall them. I can’t even determine if Theo is he happy in the end…

But this is what makes the story real. Never have I read a novel that brings a character to life so well, making me believe that I’ve actually grown up alongside Theodore as he stumbles through life with each page I turn. This book really gives meaning to the phrase, ‘Life is the longest and hardest thing you’ll ever do’. The book even ends the same way that life often does. I won’t give it away, but I will say that it isn’t the happily ever after you’re expecting, wrapped in a neat little bow to satisfy the reader. That would be too fictional of Donna when clearly she’s going for something realistic.

Donna Tartt is so vivid with her imagery that I was constantly being transported to New York City and Las Vegas from the comfort of my sofa. The voice she gives her narrator (Theo) is very modern and captivating. He’s a hard character not to like, even when he does something you don’t agree with. He constantly puts the reader in impossible situations, making us ask ourselves how we would have handled things differently. I found myself disagreeing with his actions and speeches on several occasions, coming up with alternatives that he could have used. But then he inadvertently puts us in his shoes, and I suddenly admit to myself that I would have done or saod the same thing. In a nutshell, Theo is as human as a non fictional character can get!

Readers will also enjoy many of her secondary characters, for Donna Tartt has given them all ample dedication in there personality, appearance, happenings, and interaction with Theo. I personally enjoyed Boris, Xandra, Hobie, and Kitsey the best. Of course, the hero of the novel is the painting itself (The Goldfinch). Donna Tartt rightfully treats this object like a character, making it the most important relationship Theo has throughout the entire novel.

I will warn you, this book is noticeably long. There were a couple of chapters I could have done without because I found them rather repetitive, specifically during Theo’s time in Vegas (I get it, you’re high as a kite! What else is new, Theo?). But if it were shorter, would I have connected to Theo as deeply as I did? (I suppose all those drugged out chapters helped establish his relationship and dependency on Boris…) Hard to say…

It was so heavy (not just physically) that I had to put it aside after every hundred pages. My heart just couldn’t take it! That’s why this book ended up taking me a couple of months to read instead of my usual few weeks or days. So it’s definitely not a short read. Mentally prepare yourself for this one, Book Babies… it will be worth it in the end despite the hiccups, few repetitions, and your broken heart.

I read somewhere that this book may become a movie someday. Could just be a rumor, but it got me thinking about how the writers would compress it. A two hour movie would give me the chance to see if a shorter story would still accomplish the same goals. Would it still read like a biography? Would I grow up in Theo’s shadow? Would I understand him less? Would the other characters come across as flat? Would I still feel like it was all real?

I don’t want to give much more away for fear of spoiling it. If anyone wishes to go into greater detail, please post in the comments! We’ll leave all spoilers there…

I hope you get lost in this novel, Book Babies.

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