The Goldfinch

The Goldfinch

Book - 2015
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"The author of the classic bestsellers The Secret History and The Little Friend returns with a brilliant, highly anticipated new novel. A young boy in New York City, Theo Decker, miraculously survives an accident that takes the life of his mother. Alone and abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by a friend's family and struggles to make sense of his new life. In the years that follow, he becomes entranced by one of the few things that reminds him of his mother: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the art underworld. Composed with the skills of a master, The Goldfinch is a haunted odyssey through present-day America, and a drama of almost unbearable acuity and power. It is a story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the enormous power of art"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Back Bay Books, Little Brown and Company, 2015
Edition: First Back Bay paperback edition
ISBN: 9780316055444
Branch Call Number: F TAR
Characteristics: 771 pages ; 24 cm


From the critics

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Jun 11, 2021

The novel “The Goldfinch,” by Donna Tartt is about the story of a boy, whose life was changed when his mother died in a terrorist bombing. The book is told from the perspective of the boy, who is named Theodore Decker. Theodore, or "Theo," was only thirteen years old when he and his mom were at an art museum. Bombs were planted and detonated in the museum, and the explosions and falling debris killed many people, including Theo’s mother. Theo had come out of the bombing without much physical harm, while also carrying a famous painting called “The Goldfinch.” This painting starts out as a trinket of sorts, but later on, it turns into a big problem in his life. After the incident, he moves in with his friend for a while, before being taken away by his father, who had divorced from his mother a while ago. He starts a new life in Las Vegas, where his father lives. Theo lives in Las Vegas for a few years before his father dies in a car accident. After this point in the story, the plot fast-forwards to about a decade later, where Theo is now twenty-six. He has descended into a life of drugs, alcohol, and misery. After realizing that he has lost the painting that has been his closest companion for the past years, he goes off on an adventure, searching for the painting and getting involved in crime, shady deals, and even murder.

This book was packed with very detailed descriptions that made every scene seem like it was playing itself out in my mind. It contained quite a few words that I did not understand, but otherwise, this book was a smooth read. The ending was kind of confusing, but that was because the author was making the characters describe the lessons that she wanted the readers to take away from the story. The characters were really well-developed, and all the descriptions made everything in the story extremely realistic. I liked how there were many surprises in the book, but there were some parts of the book that were unnecessarily long and descriptive. Some people may get bored at these parts of the story, but overall, the book is very interesting and provides lots of facts about the worlds of art and antiques. This book contains lots of swearing, some violence and death, and drug use. I would recommend this book for people ages 16 or up.

Apr 26, 2021

Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch will take you on an adventure of epic proportions. I first came across this book shortly after losing a close family member, so I cannot deny that this has had a huge impact on why I still feel so connected to it. Following teenage Theodore Decker, who loses his mother in a bombing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Donna Tartt depicts grief in a way that has resonated with me for years now. At a time where I was as young as Theo, and didn’t know how to put words to everything I was feeling, reading this book felt as if Tartt had looked into my heart and put those feelings onto paper, made them into something I could express to others with a little more ease. Fortunately, I don't relate to Theo's mindset so much anymore, but I still adore him as a character. I love the intricate relationships which Theo builds with the other characters in the story, particularly with Boris Pavlikovsky, who in my opinion is the highlight of the novel. The chapters that take place in Las Vegas are a fun diversion from the gloominess of the chapters which surround it while also revealing some of Theo’s repressed feelings and a more honest version of himself.

I love this book to pieces although I do find the ending a little anticlimactic, and the length definitely drags in places. But, darn it, I am too attached to the story and to the characters to give it anything less than 5 stars.

Mar 25, 2021

This was on the nightstand at my daughter's house and I started it a dozen times and chucked it aside. Then I took it out of the library and did the same. Eventually I brought the doorstop home determined to get it over with—which I did and it was painful.

It could have been so good. How sad. Why doesn't some good editor take this woman to task? I'm just grateful that it's over and I never EVER have to pick it up again.

Mar 12, 2021

Finished Jan '21

Jan 25, 2021

Modern day Great Expectations. Excellent read, well written, excellent character development, strongly executed. This is book that you will live not just read. Sadness, loss, grit, unwavering love, it has it all. If you read, you cannot miss this story.

Jan 11, 2021

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt is about a teenage boy named Theodore who lost his mother due to a terrorist attack in a museum at New York. After the death of his mother, he is put into the custody of his father before moving to Las Vegas. This experience is highly traumatizing for Theodore, as he is left without a responsible, loving adult figure in his life. As Theodore deals with his unexpected and unfortunate life circumstances, he learns the importance of independence, friendship, and love. The story follows him into adulthood and details his lonely life in Las Vegas and his chaotic journey back to his home town.

To this day, “The Goldfinch” remains one of my favorite books. Donna Tartt does a spectacular job of building a connection between Theodore and the reader. I was able to live vicariously through Theodore’s heartbreaks, depressive episodes, and joyful days. This book provides its readers with a deep understanding of mental health and life, and after finishing this story, I found that I built more empathy and was able to learn so much about the world. For things I did not like about the story, I felt as if the story became unraveled and unnecessarily messy towards the end.

Jan 10, 2021

Some theories about this book:
1. "Donna Tartt" is actually an AI program.
2. Donna Tartt has never actually talked to another human.
3. They will give Pulitzers to anyone these days.
4. She turned the manuscript into her editor, who, seeing the length, said "Looks good to me."
5. She is compared to Dickens, but it reminded me of Edith Wharton in parts, if Edith Wharton had been dropped on her head as a child.
6. No self-respecting terrorist would blow up an art museum.
7. Dickens would blush at some of the improbable plot twists and turns.
8. This is a very, very bad book.

Oct 30, 2020

A beautiful book that is both an incredible journey by the character and a great celebration of how powerful and important art can be.

Oct 30, 2020

Couldn't really get interested in this book so didn't finish it. I don't care for Dickens either and this book is compared to Dickens.

loonylovesgood Sep 29, 2020

Certainly a compelling story but I definitely had to skim read many parts. The author has a bit of an overly-descriptive and rambling style to her writing that was hard to get through during some parts. But there were many beautiful and endearing qualities about this book too. I'm interested to see the movie now!

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Sep 19, 2020

"What if maybe opposite is true as well? Because, if bad can sometimes come from good actions—? where does it ever say, anywhere, that only bad can come from bad actions? Maybe sometimes — the wrong way is the right way? You can take the wrong path and it still comes out where you want to be? Or, spin it another way, sometimes you can do everything wrong and it still turns out to be right?”

Jan 17, 2020

Watched the film adaptation today and decide to add this quote to contrast the film script:

“Well—I have to say I personally have never drawn such a sharp line between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ as you. For me: that line is often false. The two are never disconnected. One can’t exist without the other. As long as I am acting out of love, I feel I am doing best I know how. But you—wrapped up in judgment, always regretting the past, cursing yourself, blaming yourself, asking ‘what if,’ ‘what if.’ ‘Life is cruel.’ ‘I wish I had died instead of.’ Well—think about this. What if all your actions and choices, good or bad, make no difference to God? What if the pattern is pre-set? No no—hang on—this is a question worth struggling with. What if our badness and mistakes are the very thing that set our fate and bring us round to good? What if, for some of us, we can’t get there any other way?”

Apr 17, 2017

“When you feel homesick,’ he said, ‘just look up. Because the moon is the same wherever you go.”

Jun 16, 2015

“Caring too much for objects can destroy you. Only—if you care for a thing enough, it takes on a life of its own, doesn’t it? And isn’t the whole point of things—beautiful things—that they connect you to some larger beauty?”

Jun 26, 2014

Why does it cost so much, a thing like from kindergarten class? 'Ugly Blob.' 'Black Stick with Tangles." - Boris

Apr 13, 2014

That life -- whatever else it is – is short. That fate is cruel but maybe not random. That Nature (meaning Death) always wins but that doesn’t mean we have to bow and grovel to it. … It is a glory and a privilege to love what Death doesn’t touch (the Goldfinch painting). For if disaster and oblivion have followed this painting down through time – so too has love….

Jan 21, 2014

"A great sorrow, and one that I am only beginning to understand: we don’t get to choose our own hearts. We can’t make ourselves want what’s good for us or what’s good for other people. We don’t get to choose the people we are."


Add Notices
Jan 15, 2020

Other: Prolific drug and alcohol use. So much so that a young person may be drawn to experimentation due to the descriptive sensations of peace as described by the author. Also, anyone struggling with addictions should likely steer clear of this book.

Jan 15, 2020

Frightening or Intense Scenes: Violent loss of parent and deaths of many others. "Trauma" is the theme, so it is full of disturbing scenes.

Jan 15, 2020

Sexual Content: Under age homo-sexual sex

Jan 15, 2020

Violence: A high level of violence with graphic descriptions.

Jan 15, 2020

Coarse Language: There is a continual use of profanity throughout the book.


Add Age Suitability
May 22, 2020

lkim17 thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

Jan 15, 2020

LynJoan thinks this title is suitable for 21 years and over

Oct 23, 2019

IDKUsername thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

Oct 23, 2014

Chapel_Hill_KenMc thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over


Add a Summary
siammarino Sep 22, 2014

Leo is in a museum in New York City when a terrorist sets off a bomb. Alive but stunned, Leo comforts a dying man who gives him a ring with instructions where to take it, and then he grabs a valuable painting of a goldfinch and makes his way out of the museum and home. His mother has died in the bombing, and his life from then on revolves around the painting, the girl Pippa who alerted him to the bomb, Pippa's uncle Hobie who takes in Teo and teaches him to restore antiques, and Boris who is just bad news. This is the story of the power of great artworks to grab you soul and not let go. It is also a powerful reminder of the plight of children who lose their parents, or whose parents don't care for them.

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