The Goldfinch

The Goldfinch

A Novel

eBook - 2013
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A young New Yorker grieving his mother's death is pulled into a gritty underworld of art and wealth in this "extraordinary" and beloved Pulitzer Prize winner that "connects with the heart as well as the mind" (Stephen King, New York Times Book Review).


Theo Decker, a 13-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don't know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by a longing for his mother, he clings to the one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into a wealthy and insular art community.


As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love — and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.


The Goldfinch is a mesmerizing, stay-up-all-night and tell-all-your-friends triumph, an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention. From the streets of New York to the dark corners of the art underworld, this "soaring masterpiece" examines the devastating impact of grief and the ruthless machinations of fate (Ron Charles, Washington Post).

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company

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From the critics


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s
sjarrell0
Jun 26, 2020

Ruined reading for me. Could not pick up anything for several months after finishing.

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lkim17
May 22, 2020

After losing his mother in a bombing of the museum they had visited, 13-year old Theo Decker takes a painting with him: The Goldfinch. While suffering through grief and being taken back in by his negligent father, Theo clings to the painting, reminiscent of his mother, unaware of the consequences he will face with it. This book captures the raw emotion of sorrow, present in Theo and the choices he makes. I personally liked this book in its immersive writing and ability to make the reader understand each character, despite the many flaws they hold. The Goldfinch will draw readers in and show them the mystery of beauty and how it is received.

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lyndasclater
May 22, 2020

A long book but very good!

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lmeyrueix4
Apr 22, 2020

This is a book I had been wanting to read since my undergraduate days. I will always remember seeing it on my kindle first options and NOT picking it. Shortly thereafter, the book gained popularity. Even a peer in a biochemistry class of mine carried it around for several weeks causing me to have immense book regret.

Thankfully, after all this time, The Goldfinch was recently on sale and I have finally read it! It only took 4 years!

Overall, I will say the book did not live up to the anticipation. I am most likely unfairly judging it because of my high expectations, as I am prone to doing when I covet a book for so long.

The Goldfinch felt like a never-ending story. There were many opportunities in the plot for the story to end but it kept being unnecessarily drawn out. As a reader, I didn’t quite see the point of extending the story for so long, particularly since there were several breakpoints in the plot that made for excellent endings.

To be noted that Donna Tartt did an amazing job constructing her characters. They felt like real people, and the characteristics described in many of the characters I could visualize these same traits in people in my own life. Unfortunately, due to the dragging plotline, by the end of the book, I grew tired of many of the characters. I am not sure if that was the point or just my own personal bias.

I will also give Donna Tartt credit for capturing the power that art can have on people. The way she described the painting of the goldfinch and the awe it inspired in the main character, Theo, made you feel like you were seeing it through his eyes. In my case, I was not previously familiar with this painting, and thanks to my naivety I truly saw the painting the way Theo saw it. Now when looking up images for this post I couldn’t help but be disappointed when seeing the painting for my own eyes. Theo had a more intimate connection with this painting than I do, which has removed some of the magic.

All in all, I would not recommend this book. I would enjoy discussing this book with people who are already presently reading it, or have read it. But I would not go out of my way to push anyone to read it.

“‘Who was it said that coincidence was just God’s way of remaining anonymous?’” – Donna Tartt

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ladybugg
Mar 11, 2020

As one of the comments stated "you'll either love it or you'll hate it". I'm sorry to say that I belong to the latter. This book was about 600 pages too long if not more. It's about two friends who are heavily into drugs and alcohol more so than about the painting's theft and recovery. I had to challenge myself to finish reading it, leaving me wondering "What qualified this book for the Pulitzer?"

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blcwrites
Feb 23, 2020

What Donna Tartt needed in this book was a strong, firm editor. It's over written, the Las Vegas section is meaningless and contrived. How it managed to become a "literary" icon is a puzzle to me. This book reminds me of Bel Canto - another worshipped book. There are interesting characters in both but the plot and length and unsatisfying ending so not worth the time and number of pages it took to get to the end.

p
PDBurt
Feb 11, 2020

This book had way too much detail about mundane things. It would've been ok because of the thoughtful prose and endearing descriptions if those had been in moderation but the expounding about every little detail, i.e. three pages of trying to find a cab, three more pages about the interior of the cab plus descriptions of the music and what the cab driver looked like, two pages of crossing the street, four pages of entering a museum plus way, way, way too many internal thoughts, doubts, frustrations , internal dialogue, inability for the kid to communicate much- ten pages of a four hour incident at the museum, forty pages of foster care, more on the kid's low-life father to the rescue but -no go, forty pages of a nice man who took guardianship, some breathy intrigue thrown in, then twenty pages of teenage angst about school, droll descriptions of socialites, plus periodic blather about hoity toity art, etc, etc. Painfully long. I didn't look at first as to who the author was but I was thinking, omg, it's got to be a woman, no man would describe a teenage boy this way, yup, it's a woman author- what was she imagining a child of hers would be like ? (adoring, lost without her) was she trying to create a substitute for her own failed relationships? Do I sound like Doc on the Doc Martin series? Now that was fun. not this- Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of wonderful female authors but this is definitely Blondiewood. I don't know where all the praise accredited to her came from , some kind of bandwagon of authors who want their name on someone else's book?, even those praises were four pages long. wow. I had to skim through much of it and even that was too much. argh! It might have been a good story if it was about 1/3 the length- maybe-; Morose ending.

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TEENREVIEWBOARD
Feb 08, 2020

The Pulitzer prize winning novel, The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt is a masterpiece of modern fiction. It’s angsty tone creates a mood that is relatable to any teen, yet its themes are also very universal. The Goldfinch has a fairly slow pace considering how long it is, but instead of rushing through action, the story takes its time in establishing strong, vivid settings and developing its characters. Every single character in this story, whether they are present for one page or are the main character throughout the book, is distinct and compelling. The main character, Theo Decker, is a complex person, especially while navigating his life after the explosion that turns it upside down. His actions and choices are realistic considering the trauma he has been subject to. The supporting characters are all fascinating too, especially Theo’s best friend Boris, his dad Larry, and his foster father Hobie. Even though they are not the main character, Tartt puts just as much effort into their backstories and personalities, creating thoroughly fleshed out people that feel real. Just like her characters, Tartt puts ample detail into her settings. While reading The Goldfinch, I felt as though I could see and feel the environment of every scene. From the hustle and bustle of New York, with its charm and anonymity, to the suffocating sands of the Las Vegas deserts, I was fully immersed in the surroundings of the story. This book was quite a dense read, with long chapters and complex, poetic narrative, but I constantly found myself wanting to read more. It was incredibly enjoyable to delve into the melancholic perspective of Theo and to get to see the world through his eyes. Getting to see how all of the plot points culminated in an epic ending was incredibly satisfying and I finished the book without an ounce of disappointment. Overall, The Goldfinch was an absolutely spectacular read and my only wish is that I could read it again for the first time. 5/5
@nickreads of the Teen Review Board of the Hamilton Public Library

j
janadbuckley
Jan 31, 2020

Enjoyable, but too much minutia in the description making it much longer than it needs to be. The setting and emotion could have been accomplished with fewer words. As is, I did not finish the entire text due to this factor.

andkel Jan 15, 2020

This book is very good writing and tells a story about how life does not always go as planned. You get caught up in this teenager's life and you just want all the best for him, even as you are reading and know that things are not good for him. A heartbreaking tale, but still full of hope.

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Quotes

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j
jimg2000
Jan 17, 2020

Watched the film adaptation today and decide to add this quote to contrast the film script:

“Well—I have to say I personally have never drawn such a sharp line between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ as you. For me: that line is often false. The two are never disconnected. One can’t exist without the other. As long as I am acting out of love, I feel I am doing best I know how. But you—wrapped up in judgment, always regretting the past, cursing yourself, blaming yourself, asking ‘what if,’ ‘what if.’ ‘Life is cruel.’ ‘I wish I had died instead of.’ Well—think about this. What if all your actions and choices, good or bad, make no difference to God? What if the pattern is pre-set? No no—hang on—this is a question worth struggling with. What if our badness and mistakes are the very thing that set our fate and bring us round to good? What if, for some of us, we can’t get there any other way?”

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gabym17
Apr 17, 2017

“When you feel homesick,’ he said, ‘just look up. Because the moon is the same wherever you go.”

f
fallonbenner
Jun 16, 2015

“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?”

k
KateyC
Jun 26, 2014

Why does it cost so much, a thing like from kindergarten class? 'Ugly Blob.' 'Black Stick with Tangles." - Boris

j
jimg2000
Apr 13, 2014

That life -- whatever else it is – is short. That fate is cruel but maybe not random. That Nature (meaning Death) always wins but that doesn’t mean we have to bow and grovel to it. … It is a glory and a privilege to love what Death doesn’t touch (the Goldfinch painting). For if disaster and oblivion have followed this painting down through time – so too has love….

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LauraM185
Jan 21, 2014

"A great sorrow, and one that I am only beginning to understand: we don’t get to choose our own hearts. We can’t make ourselves want what’s good for us or what’s good for other people. We don’t get to choose the people we are."

Notices

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l
LynJoan
Jan 15, 2020

Other: Prolific drug and alcohol use. So much so that a young person may be drawn to experimentation due to the descriptive sensations of peace as described by the author. Also, anyone struggling with addictions should likely steer clear of this book.

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LynJoan
Jan 15, 2020

Frightening or Intense Scenes: Violent loss of parent and deaths of many others. "Trauma" is the theme, so it is full of disturbing scenes.

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LynJoan
Jan 15, 2020

Sexual Content: Under age homo-sexual sex

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LynJoan
Jan 15, 2020

Violence: A high level of violence with graphic descriptions.

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LynJoan
Jan 15, 2020

Coarse Language: There is a continual use of profanity throughout the book.

Age

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l
lkim17
May 22, 2020

lkim17 thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

l
LynJoan
Jan 15, 2020

LynJoan thinks this title is suitable for 21 years and over

i
IDKUsername
Oct 23, 2019

IDKUsername thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

c
Chapel_Hill_KenMc
Oct 23, 2014

Chapel_Hill_KenMc thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

Summary

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siammarino Sep 22, 2014

Leo is in a museum in New York City when a terrorist sets off a bomb. Alive but stunned, Leo comforts a dying man who gives him a ring with instructions where to take it, and then he grabs a valuable painting of a goldfinch and makes his way out of the museum and home. His mother has died in the bombing, and his life from then on revolves around the painting, the girl Pippa who alerted him to the bomb, Pippa's uncle Hobie who takes in Teo and teaches him to restore antiques, and Boris who is just bad news. This is the story of the power of great artworks to grab you soul and not let go. It is also a powerful reminder of the plight of children who lose their parents, or whose parents don't care for them.

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