The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

goldfinchWhat would happen if you were scared for life because of an incident that had happened in your childhood days? That was what happened to poor Theodore Decker, a young boy at the age of thirteen. His father ran away about a year ago, but his loss didn’t really affect Theo at all. He wasn’t exactly close with his father. He was much more closer to his mother.

He continued his daily life like every normal kid does, eventually landed on teenager’s problems. He was caught smoking on school and his mother was called. His mother wasn’t happy with him at all. As she dragged him along to the school meeting, something else distracted her–the museum, a place where they loved to spend time together, especially with the new gallery, ‘The Anatomy Lesson’.

Just for a detour, they went to the new gallery in Metropolitan Museum of Art to view the paintings around since the meeting was just an hour away. This was a part where I start to question Theo’s mother’s parenting. What kind of parent walks into the museum when being upset because her child has done something wrong in school? My mom would frog-march me into that building right away with no exceptions at all. I would be dead after the meeting. *kidding*

Like me and my mom, Theo had a good relationship with his mother. He really loved her–of course! Many kids have a good relationship with their parents until they grow up. The power of mother-children’s love could be very powerful. Theo looked up to his mother in many ways and always strove to make her proud. Their relation were closer after their father left.

One thing that Theo really dreaded worst of all was the day his mother didn’t go home from work. He would sit in front of the door like a puppy, waiting for her to come home. He would calculate the time for his mother to finish her work and how long it would take for her to go home. But unfortunately, like many stories, this would have to change. Theo’s mother wanted to take one last look at the gallery and left Theo at the gift shop for some time. But they didn’t know that there were bombs triggered in the gift show. And–boom!

There was a huge explosion which killed almost everybody in the museum. Theo survived the blast, in one entire piece. The entire museum crumbled, especially in the gift shop. Theo trapped in the gift shop with an old Man who laid dying. Confused as he watched the man dying, Theo grabbed the nearest thing the old man told him to take which was a painting, the 1654 Carel Fabritius masterpiece and a ring. In all the next confusion that followed, Theo lived temporarily with the Barbours as he had a close relationship with one of them ever since he was little, but drifted off when middle school followed. He spent most of his time mourning about his mother.

According to some critic articles that I read, for all the frequent descriptions of the book is called “Dickensian.” I don’t really know about that, but I have read The Great Expectation when I was ten years old. I found several stories are crammed in The Goldfinch. When Theo was still living in New York, The Catcher in the Rye came to my mind. However, when he moved in with the family of a wealthy school friend, his hope of being adopted by them evoked elements of The Great Expectations. When he was taken away to Las Vegas and fell in with a bad crowd, I particularly detected Oliver Twist.

The story continued with the painting he grabbed, which later when Theo knew was a very important piece of art called the ‘Goldfinch.’, a small picture of a bird tied to a chain. It symbolized a person being held back and unable to go where he desired in the world. Soon Theo met Hobie after finding out who was the old man he accompanied dying in the museum. Hobie who was apparently working as partners with Welty. They found out in shock about the ring, but they didn’t know about the painting. Theo left the painting hidden.

Hobie warmly invites Theo into his life. Hobie had a warm and cheerful personality. He almost became a kind of second dad to Theo. He always listened to what Theo would say. He could cook really well. There were many people who Theo met in live who influenced him, like Boris, one of Theo’s closest friend. Boris was more likely a drunk drug addict who attracted lots of girls, but he was a good person to talk to. Their friendship grew when Theo was shipped to Las Vegas, because his father and his girlfriend Xandra decided to take him in after his mother’s death. Boris was a good companion in Theo’s life, although he did showed Theo how good a life is with drinking and drugs.

The painting was one of the main events in this story for fourteen years. It was passed from hand to hand and affected Theo’s life even when he grew up. Theo was getting more nervous as he encountered an array of eccentric characters. He was living from New York to Las Vegas to Amsterdam, adding to the facts that some paintings that were lost in the museum was recovered. The police had hoped that some of the paintings that were thought ‘lost’ could be found again.

Donna Tartt is an American writer and author of the novels The Secret History, The Little Friend, and The Goldfinch. She has written so far many amazing stories. The Goldfinch won the Pulitzer Award for Fiction in 2014. So, it just happened last year. Eleven years in the making, 962 pages long, the book is like a mini-masterpiece — just like the painting, and I really like the story. The novel is already on its way to becoming a movie, or a TV series, made by the producers of The Hunger Games. It’s been on the New York Times best-seller list for seven months, sold a million and a half print and digital copies. Phew and wow to Tartt!


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