“Caring too much for objects can destroy you. Only—if you care for a thing enough, it takes on a life of its own, doesn’t it? And isn’t the whole point of things—beautiful things—that they connect you to some larger beauty?”Donna Tartt: The Goldfinch
Theo Decker and his mother live a comfortable life together in New York City. They spend their days exploring the art filled museums around every corner. Needing to wait out a rain storm, the pair duck into the Met where his mother educates him about the complexities and history of each piece. In that moment, they are together lost in a brushstroke universe. They are together until their is a loud noise, and everything goes dark. Theo wakes to a building of carnage. Through his disorientation, Theo manages to escape the wreckage with something meaningful in his grasp. Throughout the decades of addiction, finding home, dirty dealings, and heartbreak, Theo is haunted by that tragic day for the rest of his life.
I loved reading this book. It gave me hope that I might be out of this everlasting reading slump. While I am still in the middle of this rut, I thoroughly enjoyed The Goldfinch. It’s dark, cozy, and gives the same vibes as A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara even though the two books are different in their degrees of focus and trauma. A Little Life deals more with the inner workings of its characters while The Goldfinch deals with the outer, business deals and relations of the characters. Still, same vibes.
Although I just mentioned that The Goldfinch looks at the situations in life that the characters find themselves in, the excellent character writing shines through. Even in the worst scenarios when drugs are prevalent and illegal deals are being made, Tartt’s silky characters feel like home.
Because we are consuming the book through Theo’s lens, the desperation to find a place of belonging and comfort worms its way into each relationship whether it be with one of his distant friends or someone from his past life. The need for reassurance is palpable in the book until his later years in life…even then, it’s there…just in a different form.
One aspect of this book that captivated me from the beginning was a big secret that Theo is struggling to keep. As the story progresses, his life knits tighter and tighter around this unrevealed situation so much so that it is hard, as the reader, to acknowledge the importance of anything else. I give high praise to Tartt’s writing for this because Theo’s mind is running along the same course. He is aware of reality, but is also afraid that everything might implode at any second. It’s hard to put it into words. Theo is already 100% living and breathing on his own as a character, but the way that he is written to face each situation in his life brings the connection of his character and the reader even closer. Even though I, as a reader, understand that Theo is a character in a book that I am holding in my hands, I couldn’t help but feel the same anxieties. I felt as if I had as much to hide and lose as he did. There were moments that I had to step away because this realistic fiction felt too realistic.
This book deserves all of the recognition that it is receiving right now on platforms like TikTok. It is a quiet book that is making a splash. It’s serious and important but entirely approachable too. I recommend giving this book a read, but I say that with caution. It is the kind of book that I feel needs to be picked up at the right time. (As readers, you already know what I mean…) Give Theo your undivided attention and enjoy!
Thanks for reading.