The Goldfinch

The Goldfinch

Book - 2013
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"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 : Little, Brown and Company, 2013.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780316055437
Call Number: TARTT
Characteristics: 771 p. ; 25 cm
Subjects: Pulitzer Prizes.
Young men -- Fiction.
Loss (Psychology) -- Fiction.
Artists -- Fiction.
Self-realization -- Fiction.
New York (N.Y.) -- Fiction.
Thrillers (Fiction)


From Library Staff

2014 Audie Award Winner - Literary Fiction category, Solo Narration - Male category; narrated by David Pittu

From the critics

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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!

Sep 15, 2020

I began the book - twice. When I realized I was skimming, I realized I was wasting my time. If the beginning didn't grab me, what hope was there for the rest? In these days of Covid-19 and home-bound because of unhealthy air quality, I look for books to immediately draw me in. This definitely didn't.

Sep 15, 2020

Basically, a good book, but the author was way too wordy.

Sep 02, 2020

Donna Tartt’s 2013 novel turned film, The Goldfinch, follows New York native Theodore Decker in a journey, of the simplest words, of life, self-discovery, friends, family, and secrets. The Goldfinch starts when Theodore is 13 years of age, when his mother is killed in a tragic museum explosion, sending him on a life long exploration of guilt and mourning, love, friendship, and recovery. Something that Tartt’s novel excellently performs is the expansive theme of loss of innocence, tag-teaming off of the never ending guilt, good vs. evil, and childhood trauma that Theodore experiences. It is clearly demonstrated in the book that Theo was forced to grow up very fast, as the death of his mother was abrupt and untimely, and that the lack of a father figure and permanent family takes an extensive toll on his well being, moral compass, and self worth. Theodore’s journey throughout The Goldfinch was a new experience for me, and unlike any “coming-of-age” novel I have ever read. While essentially the novel can be grouped under the category of COA, the story is not as light-hearted as most teen or young adult novels, demonstrating how things do not always work out, and that a coming-of-age does not always end up in a way that favours the main character. With aspects of both tragedy and light-heartedness, The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt provides readers with an inside look at a story that can be both familiar and strange at the same time, filled with adventure and action, and turns at every corner.
@readingmouse of the Hamilton Public Library's Teen Review Board

Aug 24, 2020

Am totally giving this book a five-star rating! Absolutely loved it! It is long but was I was very engaged with it from start to finish. Couldn't stop listening to it so I could find out how it ended! Very well written! Strongly recommend it!

Aug 18, 2020

It ruined reading for me too sjarrell0, but in a different way. It took me almost a full year to read this book, and I usually read 20 to 30 books a year. While I was "reading" it, I felt like I couldn't really start another book until I got this one finished (although I did sneak a few others in). At one point I had to re-read the first 350 pages because I couldn't pick up where I had left off. I think the pandemic stress affected my concentration as well. I finally finished it today and now I am wondering why I wasted so much time on this unsatisfying book. I was sympathetic to the young Theo and parts of the story were good but it just went on and on and the ending did not redeem the effort.

Jul 27, 2020

If you are good at skim reading, you might be able to tolerate this book. It is filled with so much useless description. There are many historical errors that left me distracted and irritated. This sloppiness makes it feel like the author did not care about the reader's intelligence. As for the plot, there was not much. On a positive note, the book is so heavy, you will get a work out holding it. Instead of an endorsement from Steven King on the front, it should say, "Great book for toning your biceps!"

Jul 21, 2020

Strange, rambling, overly long, but weirdly compelling.

Jun 26, 2020

Ruined reading for me. Could not pick up anything for several months after finishing.

May 22, 2020

After losing his mother in a bombing of the museum they had visited, 13-year old Theo Decker takes a painting with him: The Goldfinch. While suffering through grief and being taken back in by his negligent father, Theo clings to the painting, reminiscent of his mother, unaware of the consequences he will face with it. This book captures the raw emotion of sorrow, present in Theo and the choices he makes. I personally liked this book in its immersive writing and ability to make the reader understand each character, despite the many flaws they hold. The Goldfinch will draw readers in and show them the mystery of beauty and how it is received.

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Add a Quote
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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