The Goldfinch: A Review

It took me over a month to read The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. Not because it wasn’t a good book, but because there were so. many. details. I just wanted to share some thoughts with you about the book in case anyone was interested in reading it! Hopefully I don’t get away any spoilers!

I have heard many great things about Goldfinch, and it’s been on my TBR list for about a year now. Needless to say I was very excited to read it once it became available at my library!

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The story is about Theo Decker, who is in a horrible accident with his mother when he was a teenager. He lives, his mother dies. It then goes through the rest of his teen years and early 20’s being mostly parent-less, and the trouble he gets into. The majority of his problems revolve around a well-known artifact that he stole from the rubble of the accident.

One thing that threw me off was that I didn’t entirely know what the book was about when I started reading it. The Goodreads summary of it was a little vague to me, so I was basically going into this book blind. It also started out a little strange, at least to me, because it started in the present, but only for a short amount of time. Then it jumps to the past, and the next 550 pages are one long flashback. Then you get to the end of the book, which is back to present day, but it jumped from Theo at 16 to Theo at 20-something, with no explanation of what happened in the past decade or so.

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The amount of details in the book was insane. Don’t get me wrong, it was nice to be able to paint a picture in my head of what was happening. But the details were not of things I am particularly interested in. As the book focuses on a particular painting, it only makes sense that there is a lot of information about art and art history. If I was more into those things, I’m sure I would have loved the pages among pages of chatter between characters about various art pieces. But by the middle of the book, I was just flipping through pages to get ahead of the art talk.

Another big thing that irked me was the number of inconsistencies in the plot. 

There is no obvious time period in which the story takes place, leaving the reader to make that determination on their own. I interpreted it as being in the 1990s, maybe early 2000s, just from the way everyone spoke. As the author began writing the book in the late 90s/early 2000s, it’s understandable that I placed it in that time period.

However, there are several small details throughout the story that are off: Theo says he can only reach his friends by writing letters, but he borrowed his friend’s cell phone before. It’s little things that shouldn’t matter too much, but with them added together, it can be frustrating as a reader.

There was a lot of words that I didn’t know. I like to think I’m a fairly educated person; I mean, I have a degree in Journalism and Public Relations, both topics that focus heavily on language and writing. But there was at least one word on every page that I had to look up.

The ending was not what I expected. I’m not entirely sure what I wanted to happen, but I was hoping for a happy ending. What I got was a mediocre after-school special that I didn’t really even read. I skimmed and skipped through the last 20+ pages of the book.

I know it sounds like I hated the book, but overall, I did enjoy it. The story line was not something that I’ve heard before, so it was refreshing to read something original. I knew it was going to be a long read, but I was excited and determined to get through it. There was a great deal of suspense throughout the whole book, and that is something that I can’t get enough of. I had to tell myself to stop reading or I wouldn’t have gotten anything else done.

I highly recommend giving the book a try! I’ve heard more good things than bad about it, and I don’t regret reading it at all!

Have you read The Goldfinch? What did you think?

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