An explosion in the Metropolitan Museum of Art kills Theo Decker’s mother and dramatically alters the course of his life. With that tragic day, Theo is forever bound to the Dutch painting, The Goldfinch, which comes into his care. Soon after his mother’s death, Theo is sent to live on Park Avenue with the family of friends where he is introduced to the world of antiques.
The reappearance of his father moves Theo out to Las Vegas, where he spirals out of control meeting drug dealers, thieves, and gangsters. Fortunately, he meets Boris, a Ukrainian native, to guide him along the way. Theo is haunted but Pippa, a girl he saw moments before the explosion which killed his mother.
Amongst the novel’s successes are the connections run throughout the novel between people, objects, and spaces. Theo, as a character, is flawed but still interesting. Art and culture play a significant but not overwhelming role. Naturally, the image of the goldfinch, the painting and the bird, are frequently referenced to. Theo often thinks about why the bird is chained and comparing his mother habits to those of a bird.
At times, Theo’s behavior is frustrating. His drug abuse and lack of motivation encompass a significant portion of the plot. He seems undeserving of those around him. And yet, Donna Tartt is able to hold the reader’s interest with the possibility of change and conflict.
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