4. The Goldfinch

“—if a painting really works down in your heart and changes the way you see, and think, and feel, you don’t think, ‘oh, I love this picture because it’s universal.’ ‘I love this painting because it speaks to all mankind.’ That’s not the reason anyone loves a piece of art. It’s a secret whisper from an alleyway. Psst, you. Hey kid. Yes you.”

– Donna Tartt

The impact of art in our lives is examined in this story by looking at just how much impact can be made by one little painting of a bird. The book opens with a tragic accident in a museum that kills young Theo’s mother and continues on to show how that day shapes the rest of his life. From working in an antique store to befriending a darkly hilarious boy named Boris who exposes him to the world of crime.

The characters in this book are vivid. It was one that I felt sad to finish because it felt as if I was in the middle of interesting conversations with all of them, and turning the last page meant they would be over.

This book is long, but I flew through it. It starts in New York, spends some time in the deserts of Nevada, and ends up in Amsterdam. Fast-paced and engaging, but deep in all of the right ways, I will forever come back to this one.

“And just as music is the space between notes, just as the stars are beautiful because of the space between them, just as the sun strikes raindrops at a certain angle and throws a prism of color across the sky – so the space where I exist, and I want to keep existing, and to be quite frank I hope I die in, is exactly this middle distance: where despair struck pure otherness and created something sublime.”

– Donna Tartt

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