Oh, sweet mercy. What am I supposed to say about this book? My sister and my friend F both read it last year or so. My sister LOVED it, and F was “meh” on it. Basically, I’ve heard you either love it or hate. And spoiler alert: I did not love it.
I felt like there two different novels jammed into one. Theo Decker goes to the art museum with his mother, when an explosion kills her but leaves him miraculously alive. While trying to get out, he meets an old man who gives him a ring. He also takes a rare painting, The Goldfinch. And it is the heart upon which this novel hinges. If this is what the novel hinged on, I think it would be a great psychological arty read. But, dear reader, there is more. Much more. Theo goes to live with a wealthy family and becomes part of their life while also discovering the old man’s business partner and beautiful young ward. And then, his deadbeat dad shows up with his new girlfriend and take Theo away to Las Vegas. There, Theo meets Ukrainian high school student Boris and does a lot of drugs. And that is only about half of the novel.
Donna Tartt is a skillful writer, but the novel dragged on with so many extraneous parts. If I wanted to read about teenagers thwarting the law and drinking and doing drugs, I would read The Catcher in the Rye. If I wanted to read about an adolescent obsession with a teen girl, I would read Middlesex. Or Paper Towns. I liked the art storyline, and it definitely made sense with the Boris storyline, but I felt that a lot of trimming was necessary. A lot. Also, I found Theo to be a boring and very self-interested main character. And that did not make the reading experience pleasurable in any sense of the word.