Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Goldfinch

17333223The Goldfinch is a book I've been wanting to read since it came out last fall.  I finally got to it last week.  Donna Tartt's first book, The Secret History, is one of my favorite books.  When this book came out I was excited.  It sounded very interesting.  When it won the Pulitzer for Fiction this year, I figured it was definitely one I shouldn't miss.  While I didn't think it was as good as her first book, I did enjoy it.  My main problem with it is all the cursing.  Way too many f words for my liking.  While I rather enjoyed the character of Boris, his constant use of foul language bothered me.  Also, it is overly long.  I've had friends recommend this to me, claiming it is amazing.  For me it was a solid 3/5 stars, maybe 3.5.  This is hardly a feel good book.  It follows Theo Decker from his early teenage years to his late twenties.  When he is 13 or so, he and his mother are victims of a terrorist attack.  He survives, she doesn't.  Crawling out of the wreckage, on the instruction of a dying old man, he takes two things with him.  One a ring, the other a painting.  That final encounter forever shapes his life.  Some for good, but mostly for bad.  Theo's life goes down hill from there.  His deadbeat dad is nowhere to be found, and his grandparents are less than willing to take him in.  Luckily, he finds a home with a rich childhood friend.  That is, until his conman father shows up looking for a payday.  For two years Theo leaves Manhattan for Las Vegas.  That is where he meets Boris.  The two get into all sorts of trouble: heavy drinking and drugs, along with shoplifting.  The boys are basically on their own, little to no parental supervision.  After an incident with Theo's father, he heads back to New York.  There he is taken in by Hobie, the business partner of the dying man from the attack.  He finds a home and a career in the antiques business with Hobie, a very talented restorer.  When Boris shows back up in his life, what little stability Theo has been maintaining comes crumbling down around him.  At the center of all his trouble, the painting he saved from the rubble.  It takes him years to deal with the trauma of his childhood, but you spend the whole book cheering him on, hoping he will make the right choice.  He continuously does not.  He is definitely a train wreck, but you really can't help pulling for him.  A victim of circumstance who is trying to survive the best way he knows how.  He is a tough and resilient young man.  The supporting cast is lots of fun.  Hobie and Pippa, Boris and Andy, along with a handful of characters that provide lifelines when he needs them most.  Like all of us, not everybody he clings to is good for him, but they all change his life in ways he can't even imagine.  It is definitely worth a read, as long as you're not looking for a light and fluffy feel good story.  You won't be able to look at paintings the same way again.  Happy reading!

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