The Goldfinch will dazzle you with its painfully real characters, its tense, dramatic plot, its exploration of significant themes of love and loss, anThe Goldfinch will dazzle you with its painfully real characters, its tense, dramatic plot, its exploration of significant themes of love and loss, and the fierce beauty of Donna Tartt's writing. This novel will keep you awake and make you lament the fact that it, too, must end. Thirteen-year-old Theo Decker and his mother, on their way to a conference at school to discuss Theo's misbehavior, walk out without an umbrella and, as fate (?) would have it, it begins to pour. Let's just duck into the museum, his mom suggests. While there, she speaks of her passion for a small painting that will have a vast impact on her son's life. "The Goldfinch," by Carel Fabritius, a pupil of Rembrandt's, is the first painting she ever loved. An explosion at a gunpowder factory in the 1600s killed the artist and destroyed his studio. All but a few of his paintings were lost. Another explosion -- the bombing of the museum -- will forever alter Theo's life and take with it the parent he cherishes. It will also connect him with the people who will eventually nourish his wounded soul. A dying man urges Theo to take the small Dutch painting with him so it doesn't get stolen. In what will be the first of many nightmarish journeys, Theo takes his plastic bag containing the priceless painting and picks his way in dim light, past nightmarish scenes of severed limbs, midst acrid smells of smoke and plaster, in a desperate search for an exit. He hurries home in hopes his mother has somehow returned and is waiting for him. Her death leaves Theo homeless and emotionally scarred. On the surface, it appears he is fortunate when his best friend's wealthy family takes him in. He receives kindness from the Barbours but not love. Never having had a relationship with his father, Theo begins to spend more and more time with the antiques business partner of the old man he met in the museum. In contrast to the polished, superficial milieu of the Barbours, Theo encounters an older, warmer world there: "A wilderness of gilt, gleaming in the slant from the dust-furred windows: gilded cupids, gilded commodes and torchieres, and--undercutting the old-wood smell--the reek of turpentine, oil paint, and varnish." Hobie, who works his magic with furniture in the shop's basement, has much to teach Theo about life. It is here that Theo feels most at home. He will lose this sustenance, however, when his feckless alcoholic father returns for him and whisks him off to bleak, druggy exurban Las Vegas. Theo is subjected to grotesque neglect, chaos, and hopelessness but also discovers an extraordinary friend, Boris, who will affect his life in horrible and surprising ways. The Goldfinch is an epic coming-of-age story that explores such themes as the commingling of blood and beauty, of love and loss, of memory and free will, and, perhaps most movingly, the strange, long reach of random events.
Poetic. Powerful. Haunting. This is masterful fiction by an Italian author whose work has been translated for the first time in English. See my reviewPoetic. Powerful. Haunting. This is masterful fiction by an Italian author whose work has been translated for the first time in English. See my review at New York Journal of Books...more
Congratulations to Woodson for winning the Coretta Scott King Author Honor Award for her moving story of an oblivious child who rejects a new girl's oCongratulations to Woodson for winning the Coretta Scott King Author Honor Award for her moving story of an oblivious child who rejects a new girl's offer of friendship. You can see my review at Books of Wonder & Wisdom
Oliver Jeffers' latest picture book will have readers laughing and also pondering some deeper aspects of the nature of friendship, kinship, possessionOliver Jeffers' latest picture book will have readers laughing and also pondering some deeper aspects of the nature of friendship, kinship, possession, and change. See my review at Books of Wonder & Wisdom...more