The Netherlands with The Goldfinch

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“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.”–Donna Tartt, The Goldfinch

  • Here’s what happens:
    • The tragic loss of Theo’s mother sends him on a transformative voyage where the only constant in his life is a painting he accidentally stole from a museum. His setting frequently shifts, his personality remains mutable, and his relationships are fluid factors that push and pull him in many directions. However, this painting of a goldfinch, an object that has been with him since the precise moment of his mother’s death, is a constant that plays a pivotal role in his monumental journey.
  • It’s good because:
    • It’s written with unbelievable detail, making the characters and the flow of Theo’s life painfully realistic and relatable. Tartt somehow manages to write characters that are intimately recognizable without being cliche–and I still haven’t quite figured out how she did that.
  • Read if:
    • You’re looking for a dreamy, multidimensional narrative that dips into a myriad of themes and genres, in the same natural way life does. It is a coming-of-age story, that effortlessly explores grief, friendship, identity, family, love, and–of course– a global art heist. Also read if you’re prepared to invest some serious time in Theo’s world (a worthy feat, to be sure!) since this bad boy is nearly 800 pages long.

Up next: Iran with One Thousand and One Nights by Hanan al-Shaykh

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