The Goldfinch: A Novel (Pulitzer Prize for Fiction)
by Donna Tartt:
A nearly 800 page book is not general par for the course in my book club, but I tackled this tome, nonetheless. It was my first book by Donna Tartt, and I can honestly say that it got its talons into me early on. She is a master of plot and plot twists and description.
Our story takes place around the present day, mostly in NYC. After spending so much time with this book, I feel like you could drop me off anywhere in the city and I would be fine, though, in reality, it’s been over a decade since my last visit. We follow Theo Decker from middle school through mid-twenties. We meet him at the end and then go back to the beginning – when his mother died in a terrorist bombing while they were at a NYC museum to see a special painting.
The book gave me pause over and over. At the heart, it strikes me that one’s life could so dramatically shift from the trajectory it’s been on to a completely different path in one instant. But that is what happens to Theo. He goes from prince to pauper, from adored to tolerated, from Manhattan to the outskirts of Vegas. From care to malnutrition. From rich friends to Boris, a Ukranian boy who introduces him to true friendship, vodka, cigarettes, and drugs.
But through the whole crazy ride, a thread of hope pulled me along. Through an odd twist of fate, Theo found two people who really cared for him: an old furniture maker who loves him unconditionally and Pippa, “the golden thread who ran through everything.”
The story is so much simpler and so much more complicated than everything I’ve said. It is certainly worth the almost-800 pages. I learned more about drug habits and the seedy underworld of stolen art than I ever cared to, but I also learned about the human spirit and its need to carry on and find beauty in the midst of tragedy and self-loathing. The last two hours of reading is edge-of-your seat good, kind of like a deeper Dan Brown novel.
Bonus: reading this book has got to be akin to lifting weights. It is so. dang. heavy.