Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Why You Should Read The Goldfinch!

For the past 3 weeks, I have been reading The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. It won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Entirely well-deserved. When you read such books, it isn’t just the story that stays with you, but it’s so much more. I think those who have read the book, either LOVED it or HATED it, because I don’t see an in-between.
When it comes to such extraordinary books, it becomes very tough to write their reviews. I don’t want to give away anything because the joy of reading this book is so pure. On the other hand, I also not want to write a review, which puts me in a dilemma. So, here’s an article on WHY YOU SHOULD READ THIS BOOK!


It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a thirteen-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 his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.
The Goldfinch combines vivid characters, mesmerizing language, and suspense, while plumbing with a philosopher's calm the deepest mysteries of love, identity, and art. It is an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the ruthless machinations of fate.

It is a wonderful story of Theodore Decker & the painting he stole – The Goldfinch. I think he is someone who has seen everything that’s possible to see in one lifetime. Death. Addiction. Adventure. Obsession. Fate. Life. It is incredible how many challenges he faces & how he comes out of them. At times, the book is downright emotional, at other times almost too cruel. But, when you see how it is pieced together towards the end, you will be the one feeling all the feelings possible! You have to read this book! Here are more reasons to do so!

There are many characters in the book, but the main ones would be Theo, Boris & Hobie. Some of the others are Mrs. Barbour, Andy, Pippa, his father, Xandra & Kitsey.

THEODORE DECKER is one complex human being. He is like a river, he flows wherever fate takes him. From living with his mother, to staying at the Barbour’s, to going to Vegas with his dad, to getting back to NYC & finally going to Amsterdam & back. One moment he is grieving his mother’s loss, the next moment he has become an addict. One chapter he is a simple boy & in the next chapter he becomes a criminal. The kind of character progression (especially Theo’s) is remarkable! At times you find yourself involved in it all, feeling agitated, sorry & sad for him at the same time. It is such amazing character development why I loved reading this book. It holds you captive & makes you say, “Just one more chapter!”

When BORIS is introduced at the age of 14 or so, he is well wiser beyond his age. He has travelled quite a lot & he knows about a lot of things which Theo has no idea about. Child Boris is a mess. But, adult Boris is an experienced mess. He knows his life will always be complicated, but now he can just roll with it. At times, he is completely crazy, but at other times, he is incredibly wise, all while being an awesome friend.

HOBIE is a person of few words. He loves rebuilding antique furniture & doesn’t plan on anything more than that. We watch him become a friend of Theo and soon become a father-like figure in Theo’s life. He is not one to put deadlines on Theo, but when Theo messes up, he stands by him. He believes in correcting our mistakes by facing them. He is honest, caring, loving, strong – physically & emotionally.

It is a coming-of-age fictional story revolving around Theo. It is quite a big book, so you cannot always keep a track of the many things happening, which somehow I loved about it. Even though it’s a long story, not at any moment does it become boring. It is one adventure after another! You never know what will happen or how the little things along the story have a connection in the later part of the story. All the places hold importance & so do all the minor characters too. Everything connects in the end. There are many surprises that are completely unexpected. That’s the genius of Donna Tartt’s writing. Nowhere in the story before does she leave hints for the big surprises to come. And, as a reader, I love that! The story & the writing is impeccable & of an entire different class.

There are so many stages in the novel, where there are so many feelings involved. There is this one scene early on in the book. Theo is back at the apartment after the bombing at the museum, waiting for his mother to come. He is hopeful & maybe even a bit delusional because of the intensity of the attack. So, he does these little things at home so his mom will be impressed, but, in reality she’s actually dead, which the reader knows. This normal scene just tears you up! And, there are so many such scenes!
You realise that Theo once was a mama’s boy interested in art. But from there, he goes on drinking & smoking binges with Boris to an extreme. Even though Boris was just what Theo needed at that time, it was still very sad to see this transition.
At the end of the story, in the last 20 pages or so, there is this amazing conversation between Theo & Boris! You cannot not love all these emotional aspects that come with the story.

There are many things that are openly discussed & some other things are hinted. The book coveys in depth the actuality of POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DIORDER, which stems in Theo’s childhood & he has to carry it throughout his life. It also focusses on the problems of ADDICTION & SUBSTANCE USE. Boris & Theo (both in childhood & adulthood) are addicted to drinking & drugs. Their lives are already too chaotic, because of which the effect of drinking is not highlighted. It also focusses on how unjust the SOCIAL SERVICES SYSTEM is. Theo doesn’t want to get into the foster system, which is why he flees. This shows that foster parents abuse these children to a level that children would prefer being homeless. All these are important things which are still going on & need to be highlighted.

There are so many reasons to read The Goldfinch & I hope you found at least one goo read on to pick up this work of art today & read it. Especially for book worms & literature obsessed people, this book is a real jewel. It was an absolute joy reading this book for me. Hope it is for you too!

Until next time,

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