The Goldfinch

The Goldfinch

Book - 2015
Average Rating:
Rate this:
"The author of the classic bestsellers The Secret History and The Little Friend returns with a brilliant, highly anticipated new novel. A young boy in New York City, Theo Decker, miraculously survives an accident that takes the life of his mother. Alone and abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by a friend's family and struggles to make sense of his new life. In the years that follow, he becomes entranced by one of the few things that reminds him of his mother: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the art underworld. Composed with the skills of a master, The Goldfinch is a haunted odyssey through present-day America, and a drama of almost unbearable acuity and power. It is a story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the enormous power of art"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York, New York : Back Bay Books, Little Brown and Company, 2015
Edition: First Back Bay paperback edition
Copyright Date: ©2013
ISBN: 9780316055444
Branch Call Number: FICTION Tar
Description: 771 pages ; 24 cm


Featured Blogs and Events

If you like The Goldfinch

The Goldfinch by Donna Tart Theo Decker loses his mother in a terrorist bombing, which he miraculously survives. Abandoned by his cruel father, he is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Clinging to the last memory of his mother a small painting of a goldfinch, he is eventually drawn into the mysterious underworld of art, leading him into a dangerous circle of lies and deceit. Winner… (more)

From Library Staff

A young boy in New York City, Theo Decker, miraculously survives an accident that takes the life of his mother. Alone and abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by a friend's family and struggles to make sense of his new life. In the years that follow, he becomes entranced by one of the few th... Read More »

Theo Decker survives a tragic accident that takes the life of his mother. He is taken in by a family friend and struggles to cope with the lonely life he must now lead. As he grows older, he finds himself fascinated by a small painting of a Goldfinch that reminds him of his long-dead mother. But ... Read More »

"Theo Decker survives a terrorist attack on the Metropolitan Museum, steals the titular painting, is shipped out west to live with his ne’er-do-well father, does drugs with his bff, kidnaps his stepmother’s dog, escapes back to NYC, is taken in by his mentor/father figure (who teaches him ho... Read More »

A young boy in New York City, Theo Decker, miraculously survives an accident that takes the life of his mother. Alone and abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by a friend's family and struggles to make sense of his new life. In the years that follow, he becomes entranced by one of the few t... Read More »

From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Jul 27, 2020

If you are good at skim reading, you might be able to tolerate this book. It is filled with so much useless description. There are many historical errors that left me distracted and irritated. This sloppiness makes it feel like the author did not care about the reader's intelligence. As for the plot, there was not much. On a positive note, the book is so heavy, you will get a work out holding it. Instead of an endorsement from Steven King on the front, it should say, "Great book for toning your biceps!"

Jul 21, 2020

Strange, rambling, overly long, but weirdly compelling.

Jun 26, 2020

Ruined reading for me. Could not pick up anything for several months after finishing.

May 22, 2020

After losing his mother in a bombing of the museum they had visited, 13-year old Theo Decker takes a painting with him: The Goldfinch. While suffering through grief and being taken back in by his negligent father, Theo clings to the painting, reminiscent of his mother, unaware of the consequences he will face with it. This book captures the raw emotion of sorrow, present in Theo and the choices he makes. I personally liked this book in its immersive writing and ability to make the reader understand each character, despite the many flaws they hold. The Goldfinch will draw readers in and show them the mystery of beauty and how it is received.

May 22, 2020

A long book but very good!

Apr 22, 2020

This is a book I had been wanting to read since my undergraduate days. I will always remember seeing it on my kindle first options and NOT picking it. Shortly thereafter, the book gained popularity. Even a peer in a biochemistry class of mine carried it around for several weeks causing me to have immense book regret.

Thankfully, after all this time, The Goldfinch was recently on sale and I have finally read it! It only took 4 years!

Overall, I will say the book did not live up to the anticipation. I am most likely unfairly judging it because of my high expectations, as I am prone to doing when I covet a book for so long.

The Goldfinch felt like a never-ending story. There were many opportunities in the plot for the story to end but it kept being unnecessarily drawn out. As a reader, I didn’t quite see the point of extending the story for so long, particularly since there were several breakpoints in the plot that made for excellent endings.

To be noted that Donna Tartt did an amazing job constructing her characters. They felt like real people, and the characteristics described in many of the characters I could visualize these same traits in people in my own life. Unfortunately, due to the dragging plotline, by the end of the book, I grew tired of many of the characters. I am not sure if that was the point or just my own personal bias.

I will also give Donna Tartt credit for capturing the power that art can have on people. The way she described the painting of the goldfinch and the awe it inspired in the main character, Theo, made you feel like you were seeing it through his eyes. In my case, I was not previously familiar with this painting, and thanks to my naivety I truly saw the painting the way Theo saw it. Now when looking up images for this post I couldn’t help but be disappointed when seeing the painting for my own eyes. Theo had a more intimate connection with this painting than I do, which has removed some of the magic.

All in all, I would not recommend this book. I would enjoy discussing this book with people who are already presently reading it, or have read it. But I would not go out of my way to push anyone to read it.

“‘Who was it said that coincidence was just God’s way of remaining anonymous?’” – Donna Tartt

Mar 11, 2020

As one of the comments stated "you'll either love it or you'll hate it". I'm sorry to say that I belong to the latter. This book was about 600 pages too long if not more. It's about two friends who are heavily into drugs and alcohol more so than about the painting's theft and recovery. I had to challenge myself to finish reading it, leaving me wondering "What qualified this book for the Pulitzer?"

Feb 23, 2020

What Donna Tartt needed in this book was a strong, firm editor. It's over written, the Las Vegas section is meaningless and contrived. How it managed to become a "literary" icon is a puzzle to me. This book reminds me of Bel Canto - another worshipped book. There are interesting characters in both but the plot and length and unsatisfying ending so not worth the time and number of pages it took to get to the end.

Feb 11, 2020

This book had way too much detail about mundane things. It would've been ok because of the thoughtful prose and endearing descriptions if those had been in moderation but the expounding about every little detail, i.e. three pages of trying to find a cab, three more pages about the interior of the cab plus descriptions of the music and what the cab driver looked like, two pages of crossing the street, four pages of entering a museum plus way, way, way too many internal thoughts, doubts, frustrations , internal dialogue, inability for the kid to communicate much- ten pages of a four hour incident at the museum, forty pages of foster care, more on the kid's low-life father to the rescue but -no go, forty pages of a nice man who took guardianship, some breathy intrigue thrown in, then twenty pages of teenage angst about school, droll descriptions of socialites, plus periodic blather about hoity toity art, etc, etc. Painfully long. I didn't look at first as to who the author was but I was thinking, omg, it's got to be a woman, no man would describe a teenage boy this way, yup, it's a woman author- what was she imagining a child of hers would be like ? (adoring, lost without her) was she trying to create a substitute for her own failed relationships? Do I sound like Doc on the Doc Martin series? Now that was fun. not this- Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of wonderful female authors but this is definitely Blondiewood. I don't know where all the praise accredited to her came from , some kind of bandwagon of authors who want their name on someone else's book?, even those praises were four pages long. wow. I had to skim through much of it and even that was too much. argh! It might have been a good story if it was about 1/3 the length- maybe-; Morose ending.

Feb 08, 2020

The Pulitzer prize winning novel, The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt is a masterpiece of modern fiction. It’s angsty tone creates a mood that is relatable to any teen, yet its themes are also very universal. The Goldfinch has a fairly slow pace considering how long it is, but instead of rushing through action, the story takes its time in establishing strong, vivid settings and developing its characters. Every single character in this story, whether they are present for one page or are the main character throughout the book, is distinct and compelling. The main character, Theo Decker, is a complex person, especially while navigating his life after the explosion that turns it upside down. His actions and choices are realistic considering the trauma he has been subject to. The supporting characters are all fascinating too, especially Theo’s best friend Boris, his dad Larry, and his foster father Hobie. Even though they are not the main character, Tartt puts just as much effort into their backstories and personalities, creating thoroughly fleshed out people that feel real. Just like her characters, Tartt puts ample detail into her settings. While reading The Goldfinch, I felt as though I could see and feel the environment of every scene. From the hustle and bustle of New York, with its charm and anonymity, to the suffocating sands of the Las Vegas deserts, I was fully immersed in the surroundings of the story. This book was quite a dense read, with long chapters and complex, poetic narrative, but I constantly found myself wanting to read more. It was incredibly enjoyable to delve into the melancholic perspective of Theo and to get to see the world through his eyes. Getting to see how all of the plot points culminated in an epic ending was incredibly satisfying and I finished the book without an ounce of disappointment. Overall, The Goldfinch was an absolutely spectacular read and my only wish is that I could read it again for the first time. 5/5
@nickreads of the Teen Review Board of the Hamilton Public Library

View All Comments


Add a Quote
Jan 17, 2020

Watched the film adaptation today and decide to add this quote to contrast the film script:

“Well—I have to say I personally have never drawn such a sharp line between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ as you. For me: that line is often false. The two are never disconnected. One can’t exist without the other. As long as I am acting out of love, I feel I am doing best I know how. But you—wrapped up in judgment, always regretting the past, cursing yourself, blaming yourself, asking ‘what if,’ ‘what if.’ ‘Life is cruel.’ ‘I wish I had died instead of.’ Well—think about this. What if all your actions and choices, good or bad, make no difference to God? What if the pattern is pre-set? No no—hang on—this is a question worth struggling with. What if our badness and mistakes are the very thing that set our fate and bring us round to good? What if, for some of us, we can’t get there any other way?”

Apr 17, 2017

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

Jun 16, 2015

“Caring too much for objects can destroy you. Only—if you care for a thing enough, it takes on a life of its own, doesn’t it? And isn’t the whole point of things—beautiful things—that they connect you to some larger beauty?”

Jun 26, 2014

Why does it cost so much, a thing like from kindergarten class? 'Ugly Blob.' 'Black Stick with Tangles." - Boris

Apr 13, 2014

That life -- whatever else it is – is short. That fate is cruel but maybe not random. That Nature (meaning Death) always wins but that doesn’t mean we have to bow and grovel to it. … It is a glory and a privilege to love what Death doesn’t touch (the Goldfinch painting). For if disaster and oblivion have followed this painting down through time – so too has love….

Jan 21, 2014

"A great sorrow, and one that I am only beginning to understand: 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."


Add Notices
Jan 15, 2020

Other: Prolific drug and alcohol use. So much so that a young person may be drawn to experimentation due to the descriptive sensations of peace as described by the author. Also, anyone struggling with addictions should likely steer clear of this book.

Jan 15, 2020

Frightening or Intense Scenes: Violent loss of parent and deaths of many others. "Trauma" is the theme, so it is full of disturbing scenes.

Jan 15, 2020

Sexual Content: Under age homo-sexual sex

Jan 15, 2020

Violence: A high level of violence with graphic descriptions.

Jan 15, 2020

Coarse Language: There is a continual use of profanity throughout the book.


Add Age Suitability
May 22, 2020

lkim17 thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

Jan 15, 2020

LynJoan thinks this title is suitable for 21 years and over

Oct 23, 2019

IDKUsername thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

Oct 23, 2014

Chapel_Hill_KenMc thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over


Add a Summary
siammarino Sep 22, 2014

Leo is in a museum in New York City when a terrorist sets off a bomb. Alive but stunned, Leo comforts a dying man who gives him a ring with instructions where to take it, and then he grabs a valuable painting of a goldfinch and makes his way out of the museum and home. His mother has died in the bombing, and his life from then on revolves around the painting, the girl Pippa who alerted him to the bomb, Pippa's uncle Hobie who takes in Teo and teaches him to restore antiques, and Boris who is just bad news. This is the story of the power of great artworks to grab you soul and not let go. It is also a powerful reminder of the plight of children who lose their parents, or whose parents don't care for them.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings

LibraryThing Series Information


Find it at CRRL

To Top