The Goldfinch – Donna Tartt

First off, an update: MY KINDLE BROKE. This review has been a long time coming, mostly because I’ve been waiting and waiting to finish this book. Finally. Onto the review!


A young boy in New York City, Theo Decker, miraculously survives an accident that takes the life of his mother. Alone and determined to avoid being taken in by the city as an orphan, Theo scrambles between nights in friends’ apartments and on the city streets. He becomes entranced by the one thing that reminds him of his mother, a small, mysteriously captivating painting that soon draws Theo into the art underworld.


This book is a journey. It’s a bit unnecessarily long-winded, and there are a handful too many rhetorical questions to add some profound meaning to the book, but it’s still satisfying. It’s like a pilgrimage: seemingly endless suffering, torment, and pain—but a worthwhile endeavour at the end of it, leaving you with a new outlook on the world.

The book is pretty gritty. It goes into some dark places. I must say that I’ve never understood the more unsavoury aspects of these characters, but now I do. By the end, Theo even brings it up himself! “Why continue if you can stop?” But people want what they want, and you can’t really judge them for their vices. As long as it doesn’t hurt others, I suppose I can accept that conclusion now.

As for art, I found it difficult to relate to the story because I don’t gain that much from it (as much as Theo, anyway). Art is not earth-shattering. I’ve seen masterpieces, nodded with a few seconds of appreciation, and gone on my way. The book assumes each reader has a deep love for art, that art must move readers in some way. But I realized that you can really replace The Goldfinch with anything important to you, and the impact will be the same.

I also liked the idea that good things can come out of bad deeds. People get pressured into ideas of karma. But sometimes you catch a lucky break, and it’s an opportunity for redemption, a way to turn your life around for the better. Everyone receives different opportunities, and it’s all about making the most of them.

It’s amazing to see how a small series of events can change one’s life forever. Theo’s life is a roller coaster. The description of the book seems so mundane, but the story follows this man’s life over many, many interesting years. I smiled at the good times, cringed and struggled through the hard ones, and felt like Theo and I both ended up in a better place.

Related Reading

  • Books about art
  • The Universe Versus Alex Woods – Gavin Extence
  • If I Stay – Gayle Forman
  • Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock – Matthew Quick
  • The Spectacular Now – Tim Tharp
  • When You Were Here – Daisy Whitney

Rating: 4/5 (if only it were a bit more concise!)


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