I had been intending to read The Goldfinch for a while when I ran across an online book club starting on this blog. The first assignment was to read a book on the NY Best Seller List, so it was a perfect fit! Here is my first #collaboreads review... I'm following the acrostic from this post.
I had really high expectations for this book since it won the Pulitzer Prize last year in Fiction, but I have to be honest... I didn't really like it. Overall I felt like the message could have been conveyed in about 350 pages (HALF of the length of the book), and the story filling the rest of the pages was pretty depressing not engaging enough for me to really connect to.
The story is told in first-person by a boy who, in the beginning of the book, loses his mother at a young age to a very random act of violence in Manhattan. The rest of the book tells the story of his life following the event, and is filled with more and more grief, frustration, and sadness. I felt like there was little to no contrast to these emotions - I felt a heavier burden every time I opened the book to read more.
What part of the book could you NOT get enough of?
I did enjoy the protagonist's best friend, Boris. They met while in high school in Las Vegas, and were both living an unsupervised teenage lifestyle as neither had much parental guidance present in their lives. Although that part of the book was too long and fairly depressing in my opinion, I did enjoy this character thoroughly. He had an interesting duality in his character having raised himself in a rough environment with an abusive, alcoholic father, but he still somehow developed a strange moral compass unique to his life's experiences. I thought he was the most interesting of all of the characters in the novel.
How did you relate to/care for the characters?
What's your thought on the plot line and twists and turns?
The main character, Theo, really did not sit well with me. I wanted to feel empathy for his tragic life but he honestly just frustrated me to no end with his constant anxiety and poor choices. It felt like he never came up for air in the real world... he seemed constantly buried in negative emotions.
The plot didn't take many twists and turns except for the very beginning and then again towards the end. About 500 pages of this book is slow-moving and fairly depressing.
What other books are like this one?
If none, did it remind you of a particular TV or movie with its themes and characters? Does it serendipitous-ly line-up with things going on in your life or the news right now?
I can't say I have ever read another book similar to this one. As I read it, I imagined it definitely could be adapted for a dramatic movie, and the terrorist attack in the beginning of the book will of course always feel familiar with real-life events.
You know you judged this book by the cover.
What did you think of it? How did it relate to the contents of the novel? And the font and layout of the pages?
The cover popped out at me on the bookstore shelf for about a year before I finally decided to pick it up. It's a mostly white cover that appears torn, revealing only a peek into the painting of The Goldfinch, which is a cornerstone to the entire story. The beautiful cover was my favorite part of this book - ha!
How many out of five do you give this book? Would you recommend this book to a friend?
2.5 stars - right down the middle. There were definitely parts that sucked me in and once I got emotionally invested in the characters it moved more quickly, but there were tedious and boring sections in the book in equal measure. As for recommending to a friend, ironically, my friend Loni and I both decided to read this book - she read it first and then gave it to me to read and didn't seem too enthused about it... I should have known what was coming!