Startling Review of The Goldfinch

The Goldfinch by Donna Tart


I am always looking for new books to read for my pleasure and also for my students’ pleasure. I incorporate an independent reading component into my classroom, therefore, it is imperative I have a large and expansive classroom library. I never order books via a Kindle or my Ipad because I love being able to hold a physical book and then keep it and add it to my classroom library.

I browse the New York Time’s Bestseller’s List quite frequently and this particular book has been listed in the top 5 for awhile. I ordered a bunch of books for summer reading including this one.

To my dismay, this novel, comprised of over 750 pages, was a disappointment for me. I kept reading hoping I would fall in love with the novel since so many others seemed to enjoy the plot, but by the time I finished, I was excited to be done so I could start a better read.

The novel starts out okay…Tartt describes a horrific tragedy that takes place in a NYC museum with Theo Decker and his mother. The two are separated and in the mean time a terrorist attack takes place and Theo’s mother dies. As Theo struggles to find his bearings and leave the building, an older man, Welty, whom he saw earlier gives him a ring and tells him to go see a man named Hobie. Confused by Welty’s directions, Theo takes a painting of The Goldfinch and leaves the building just as another explosion occurs.

With his mother dead and a deadbeat, alcoholic father, Theo has no one to live with except the Barbour’s, family friends with a son Andy who Theo went to school with. As time progresses, Theo musters up the courage to go see Hobie and becomes friends with the older gentleman. All the while Theo tells no one of the stolen piece of art because it has made headline news across the country that millions of dollars worth of famous art was stolen from the museum. Theo looks up to Hobie and finally feels like he is settling into life without his mother being around when out of the blue his father shows up with his new girlfriend, Xandra, and whisks Theo to Las Vegas where he now lives.

The entire novel is completely unrealistic and boring at times as 13-year-old Theo illustrates dramatic and intense occurrences in his life. He finds one lone friend, Boris, in Las Vegas and goes into detail about how addicted they both become to alcohol, prescription pills, cocaine, meth, and marijuana. Being hungover and scrounging for food becomes popular while Theo’s father and girlfriend leave him alone for days at a time.

As the novel continues we find out Theo’s dad dies, Theo sneaks onto a bus and makes his way back to NYC, and is still hiding the painting. He gets into some serious trouble with the painting and unrealistically “fixes” his problems.

I felt like I was reading a kid’s journal about all of the fantasies he had. There was no point of real suspense and the plot dragged on quite a bit. Some of the novel didn’t even make sense!

Maybe I am the sole minority here, but did anyone else read this? Did you feel the same way?


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