‘The Goldfinch’ By Donna Tartt [Book Review]

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First of all, I’d like to say that I was more than willing to fall in love with this book when I picked it up. I read Donna Tartt’s “The Secret History” a few years ago and genuinely loved it, so I expected the same level of excitement from “The Goldfinch.” And it didn’t disappoint. 

I’ve been aware that this book has earned mixed reactions from critics and readers alike. There are those who believe it’s a “deeply flawed book,” while some are simply convinced that its “tone, language, and story belong to children’s literature.” But still, I profess that I have so much love for this book and it will continue occupying a special place in my heart.

Relatability played a huge factor in my reading experience. In the book, Theo Decker assesses that things have gone downhill since his mother’s demise. As someone who experienced a lot of difficulties in life following the death of a parent, this judgment has resonated with me — a lot. 

I can also understand why he seems uncomfortable with how people have treated him since the life-changing disaster.

I get why he’s so obsessed with the painting, too. When someone close to your heart dies, you sometimes get to a point when you become so desperate that you try to cling to anything that’s connected to them, as though it could bring them back to life. Or, maybe you just want to hold on to something that will forever remind you of them — something you know they liked. In the case of Theo, it’s Carel Fabritius’ “The Goldfinch.”

But of course, it’s not just relatability. I enjoyed joining Theo on his adventures. I was particularly engrossed while reading about his days in Las Vegas, his trip back to New York, how he ends up staying with Hobbie and working with him, and his descent into the underworld of art.

I also religiously followed his relationships with the people around him. I love Hobbie and how he treats Theo, and I think Boris is just so interesting despite his many imperfections. Moreover, I believe there’s something special about the bond Theo and Pippa share. His relationship with the Barbours is also very complex and interesting.

And, of course, there’s the plot twist, which I didn’t see coming. It made me mad. After everything that I read in the earlier parts of the book, suddenly, I was informed about that particular event. Wow.

I remember, while reading the book, I posted about it on social media a couple of times. During one of those instances, a friend reached out to me and said he was excited for me to get to the latter part of the novel, which he described as “crazy.” Wow, what a way to make me look forward to finishing it.

A few days later, I brought the book to a cafe because I was planning to continue reading. When the staff saw it, he said he enjoyed it and loved Theo. His remarks made me so excited as well.

When I finally finished reading it a day after Christmas, I finally understood why those people reacted that way upon learning that I was reading the novel. I finally knew why they enjoyed it so much.

Now, looking back on my reading experience, I can’t help but be reminded that while reliability isn’t everything, and though it doesn’t really have much value when it comes to appraising a literary work, it’s still a good indicator of success. 

A book may not be that clever for critics, but if it can touch a lot of people, give them a great time, and even change their lives for the better, perhaps those things alone are more than enough.

In my case, I can confidently say that I got something really good from it. Besides its clever insights into beauty and art, I also appreciate what Theo says at the end about life, how one should remain open even though it’s far from a treat. 

Yes, bad things have taken place in my life, but it doesn’t mean nothing good will ever come out of them.

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