Interesting, but not worth the hype

“When you feel homesick,’ he said, ‘just look up. Because the moon is the same wherever you go.”Donna Tartt, The Goldfinch

The Goldfinch is a 2014 Pulitzer Prize bestselling book whose author is loved by many, however this book just did not land with me at all. It was perhaps the length, at over 750 pages, it was a huge investment in time, and as I don’t have time to read for much more than 20 minutes per day, in the evenings, I tended to have to pick up and put down the book, again and again before I felt like I was getting anywhere in terms of plot.

To me, the story about Theo’s life in Las Vegas seemed like Groundhog Day, an endless cycle of smoking, getting high and struggling for food and a repetitive mess of poor decision making. I spent at virtually the entire book feeling uncomfortable and uneasy on behalf of Theo, hopelessly wishing for someone to save him or for him to save himself, neither of which happened.

It may come down to why you read books. For me, it is to learn something about people or to escape to a new world or a new life in this world. However, The Goldfinch felt like it was describing a nightmare type life, where adults let children down whimsically, nothing is guaranteed and human weakness and self interest rule... sounds very much like listening to the morning news. Hence, why I gave up on the book just when Theo leaves for a new life in New York- about half way through. I just did not have the patience to watch him struggle and thrash to get his life together... I feel like I do enough of that in everyday life.

There was the occasional interesting metaphor or simile, but the characters overall felt like caricatures, the ‘bad dad’, the ‘floozy step-mum’ and the ‘not-good-for-you friend’, it all felt too contrived for me to allow any sort of genuine feeling to develop for the characters.

Maybe if I had stuck it out to the end I would of discovered the light, but with age I have allowed myself to believe that life is too short to finish books I feel I ‘should’ be reading. There are too many marathon like and repetitive pursuits in every day life – unloading and loading the dishwasher again anyone?- that I refuse to waste precious time on books I am not completely excited about.

Overall verdict- avoid, unless you have a rainy long weekend.

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