Book Review: The Goldfinch


We can’t choose what we want and don’t want and that’s the hard lonely truth. Sometimes we want what we want even if we know it’s going to kill us. We can’t escape who we are.

While I try very hard to not look at reviews whilst reading a book, this was one long book and I couldn’t help myself. So, I know that the book community either seems to love The Goldfinch, or hate The Goldfinch. And even though I loved this novel, and can see both sides. However, personally, I like the pure philosophy that Tartt spends pages spouting via Theo, Boris, Hobie, etc. So yes, I find it very deserving of its Pulitzer Prize.

A short synopsis: Theo Decker is 13 when he loses his mother in a tragic accident, a bombing in a NYC art museum. The rest of the novel centers around Theo and his life post-losing his mother; the people he encounters, the impact this tragedy has on him, and the ever-present theme of art that has a resonating influence on him for the remainder of his life.

I really loved Theo. I wrestled a lot with how I thought of him. We are told the story from Theo’s perspective, so almost all of the horrible things he does throughout the novel seem entirely justified. I kept thinking: Theo is a good person, he just makes bad choices, or falls into something at the wrong time. But sort of like Boris says when they are in Amsterdam, maybe the line between what is right and what is wrong isn’t that clear, and perhaps you can’t be a wholly good person, nor a wholly bad person? Theo clearly harbored some demons, but his imperfections endeared him to me. And really, the imperfections of the entire book are what made this book so perfect.

The only thing that really irritated me was Theo’s inability to ever answer a question. Example:
Person: Theo, what do you think about (long issue/explanation)?
Theo: Huh?
Person: (Repeats entire thing).
Theo: What?
Rinse and Repeat

Ugh! Over and over. Like dude, just pay attention.

Anyhow, The Goldfinch, if anything, is thought-provoking, and that is the type of book that I really enjoy. The Goldfinch stayed with me hours after I closed it, and I felt somewhat consistently lost in the story. To me, this is the mark of a good novel, one that captures you wholly and takes you away from your own reality. Becoming totally engrossed in a good book is the best feeling, and I felt this way most of the time I was delving through The Goldfinch.

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