Book Review: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

by donna tartt
Image via orlandoandthefountain.blogspot.com

I picked up this book to ‘scope it out,’ as it has apparently been at the very top of the New York Times Bestsellers List for quite a while. As I first got into the book, I was a little offended. The writing was very homely, very accessible, and that’s not something I expect from a Pulitzer prize winning novel. The subject matter of a middle-class white boy in modern-day Manhattan, and mentions of iPhones and Lady Gaga and other pop culture references, threw me for a loop. Can this be good fiction? It is a challenge to my idea, ingrained in me from childhood, that a book must be set in the past, must use flowery language, can’t be about someone that could be right next to me, and so on.

Near the end of my reading, I was able to discern that my annoyance stemmed from the author being overly descriptive, providing an unncessary amount of detail about the environments. I felt overly saturated and unwilling to accept more. How many more descriptions am I going to read? As a non-‘art afficionado’, things got a little too romantic in that regard. For me, the vintage furniture descriptions were more tolerable than the drug-abuse and art-romance.

With regards to how the story unfolds, it was a great story. Once I got a quarter of the way through the book, I was hooked. I was amazed at how the author had designed the plot twists for this book, and she so skilfully plans twist after twist that kept me voraciously reading on. At its end, I feel like I could tell this great story with so many surprising and unpredictable turns, while really, as I read it, I had no idea what was going to happen next. I bore through the over-descriptions, and while the plot started to get a little farfetched when the story starts hitting hard on the art theft theme and starts to get really mobster-mafia-like, I hung on to find out just what happened in this wild story.

Things this book will keep me thinking about are how trauma and insecurity can manifest in a person’s psychology, life, and decision-making, and the idea of loss in general, especially at a young age. I was intrigued by the evolving relationship of the main character and his parents, especially with his dad. Any moment written about his mother was terribly touching and heartbreaking. I loved the way circumstance allowed us to learn about the interior lives of so many other characters and spend time with them more than we would have otherwise, seeing that the book is written from the main character’s perspective.

At the end of it, I am sad that its over, and I have major end-of-book depression. Onto the next.

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