The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. Hands down, one of the best books I have read in well over a year. Also one of the best books I have ever read, period.
This book took hold of me and wouldn't let go. Reading it was like pursuing an enthralling suspenseful unknown down a darkened alleyway. I felt excited to chase after it.
In terms of the plot, I don't want to reveal a lot because part of the page-turning enjoyment of this story, for me, was having NO CLUE just what I was getting myself into when I picked it up. Whoa.
More then once when browsing for a new book in the Frankfurt bookstore, I picked this up (as it sat, unmoving, on the "top 10 bestseller" list for months). I read the short synopsis on the back cover a few times and always remained disinterested and unmoved. Then on my trip to the library before heading off to Portugal, I saw it on the bookshelf as I glided through the aisles, eyes searching for any titles that might pop out at me. I picked this one up, still felt the same lack of interest, but for some reason thought, eh, why not. So I checked it out of the library that day.
Thank god for that. This book has rendered me speechless.
The short snippet-form synopsis on the back tells you truly nothing in terms of the broad scope of this book, the excitement it contains, the many layers and characters of the story, all of whom are complex, fascinating and wonderful. The book is a narrative grandeur with dazzling detail and artful touches of Gothic drama.
Theodore Decker, the main character, is left longing by the hole blown in his heart after the sudden death of his mother in an explosion. This occurs one fateful afternoon within a famous art museum in NYC during what should have been a day of leisure and quality time together. Theo struggles with this major loss for the rest of his life, and it largely impacts (understandably) the man he becomes. Sensitive, intelligent and introspective, a boy who spirals into alcoholism and drug addiction, brave yet desperate, cunning, a realist and often even a cynic, philosophical, caring. All of these and more are the facets of Theodore.
His dark Russian sidekick, Boris (and I suppose as one could call him, Theodore's only friend), another unforgettable character as well as the nature of their friendship being something to behold.
The story takes you from the city streets of NYC, to the depressing and soul-less deserts of Las Vegas, to the watery streets of Amsterdam, and back again.
This is a Dickensian epic. Its quite a piece of work. Its a coming-of-age tale, a sweeping love story, a suspenseful book that grabs you right off and does not let go. All human life is here, within this book.
This is one of the very best books I have ever read. Upon returning it to the library, I will surely purchase my own copy to re-read once again in the near future (and again, and again).
Get it, read it and enjoy.