The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
(Little, Brown and Company, 2013, 784 pages)
The Goldfinch has been very well-reviewed and it was listed on a lot of the lists for 2013’s best reads. When I picked it up from the library I had no idea what a big book it was going to be, but it was a book that read pretty quickly. Once I started reading I had a hard time stopping. And when my younger sister saw me reading it over the holidays she decided to download it on her Kindle AND recommended it to her book club, so Tartt definitely does a good job drawing the reader in and keeping them engaged.
The book is primarily a flashback, we start in present day Amsterdam with Theo Decker stressed about something. Then he reflects on the path that got him to where he is. Raised in New York City, Theo’s life changed drastically after the untimely death of his mother. Her death also results in Theo becoming the “owner” of a rare piece of artwork that reminds him of his mother and that leads him to one of the key figures in his life, an antiques dealer/furniture refinishing expert named Hobie. Shortly after his mother’s death Theo is taken to live with the wealthy family of a friend of his. Then he’s taken to Las Vegas when the father that walked out on him shows up a few months later to claim him. Theo’s life in Las Vegas is drastically different. There’s very little supervision or parent involvement, and he meets one of his best friends, a young man named Boris who is used to being dragged new places by his father. Life with Boris is anything but dull as the two drink vodka and try drugs together in the desert. When Theo eventually makes his way back to New York he thinks he has lost Boris forever, but he ends up playing a key role in Theo’s adult life… tied in with the artwork Theo obtained years before and kept hidden.
I really enjoyed reading this book. Like I mentioned previously, when I picked up The Goldfinch I didn’t want to put it down. Don’t let the size of the book throw you off, this book is incredibly well-written and the characters are fleshed out. I don’t want to classify the book as a mystery, but there is a mystery element as you read to see how Theo got to where he is and what this all has to do with the painting he got in his youth. I’d definitely recommend it.