The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
Rating: 4.5 stars
Buy the Book: Amazon
Summary: "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.
The Goldfinch combines vivid characters, mesmerizing language, and suspense, while plumbing with a philosopher's calm the deepest mysteries of love, identity, and art. It is an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the ruthless machinations of fate."
Review: I've been wanting to read this book ever since it came out, but haven't because it was really, really long and I needed to stay on top of my Goodreads Challenge. But I'm not doing a Goodreads Challenge this year, so hey! Bring on the big fat books!
This is one of those books that will mean something different to everyone who reads it. To me, the illustration of a boy who repeatedly continues living in spite of all the turmoil in his life - both internal and external turmoil, given to him by fate and self-made - was difficult. He makes so many mistakes, and is dealt so many blows, which of course were hard to read, but what was really difficult for me was to deal with his extreme anxiety and depression. (And, actually, the reason this book isn't a full five stars is because, as someone with anxiety, I didn't always feel that the portrayal was accurate.)
However, despite the hard knocks and the cesspool of crap Theo constantly wades through, he always keeps going... Into an uncertain future, that doesn't guarantee happiness, that might even destroy him... he keeps putting one foot in front of the other. And isn't there something innately hopeful in that? In knowing that life sucks and you're going to get your heart broken and fail and sometimes want to give it all up, but even so, you keep going? Keep living? And maybe even find a way to live happily amid the crap?
This book was not a happy story to me (frankly, much of it was downright miserable and depressing) and yet I left it feeling hopeful. Believing in beauty and truth and love. Believing that good can come from strange back doors. And believing that even if life is one giant game of Screw You, there's a way to play that game joyfully.
(Note: This book will not be a good choice if you're sensitive to language.)
Review in a GIF:
Bottom Line: Pick this one up if you want a nice long read that will give you plenty to think about. Or if you just want to say that the book you're reading won the Pulitzer. NBD.