| Checked Out: August Book Review- The Goldfinch |

goldfinch

I started a book club at work.

In truth, I have no idea what I am doing, but I have always wanted to be part of a book community that reads and shares insights with other literary lovers. Forever intimidated by the structure surrounding it all and my longtime lack of consistent reading, I shied away from the sort of activity. But now, approaching the end of my “12 books for 12 months” journey, I am excited to continue on.

One of my work trips uncovered the fact that a lot of other colleagues were avid bookworms, so I found this to be a win-win natural progression: We all were reading, we all needed something to talk about besides work- This was a way, as a manager, to engage and assimilate my staff, spread around the world. So all names were added into a Slack channel called, “The OSS Book Brigade” (I’m trying to make it into a hashtag) and we’ll meet over Zoom at the end of each month to discuss our reads.

I was pretty openminded on the first book selection, so when someone said, “Let’s read ‘The Goldfinch’ before the movie comes out!” I was excited. I hadn’t seen the trailer, I had never heard of the book. It wasn’t until I went home and downloaded the book on my Kindle, that I realized its 774-page weight.

My best friend was so excited that I chose “The Goldfinch” when I told her later that evening, but she was doubtful of my timeline: I needed to read the book in seven days. “The author is brilliant and writes beautifully,” she said. “But the book is therefore quite dense. She is very descriptive, so it is by no means an easy read- You sit with it for a while.”

I had no choice but to dive in: If I wasn’t in the book club, I probably would have simply chosen something else. But I was on vacation, had seven days to pace myself, and I knew that if I read a little over one-hundred pages a day, I could complete the novel by our social session post-Labor Day.

  1. I am quite thankful that I learned how to skim pages: This is a new skill for me. All my life, I felt it sinful to put a book down. As an aspiring writer myself, I always vowed to give other accounts a fair chance- Assess a book post- beginning, middle, and end to really try and understand story lines and undertone intentions. But this is why I have ever only completed a few books a year: I trudge through unstimulating pages like I am covered in mud, determined to get to the finish line. I have had books that have taken me a full year to read, because I am also a “one book at a time” girl. Some books, like “Devil In The White City” bored me to bits until the very end- It is now one of my favorite books. As soon as the murder mystery took hold, I was hooked. Other reads, like “Outline” was a disappointment to the last page. In my opinion, a true waste of my time. After “Devil In The White City,” I yearned for more historical fiction books but I knew that I had to do things differently. And all year, I have been skimming. It’s been wonderful, and it really helped me get through this book with ease and enjoyment.
  2. I am a hardcover/ paperback lover all the way, but I am so happy that I bought this book on my Kindle instead of buying the brick-sized version. I was never intimidated by the size of the book, just moved along effortlessly with little mind to the page number.

My best friend was right- The book was definitely not a typical beach read. It was not something that I was able to pick up, put down as people sat, talking to me. I woke up each morning and settled into the couch, alone with my coffee, and read a few chapters. I then finished a few more before I went to bed each night.

Donna Tartt is exquisite, though, and I personally did not think that she was longwinded at all. Her characters were flawless yet messy in their own ways; It was a dark read that, despite its shadows, had hope hovering above the text with every passing page. I loved the juxtaposition of so many themes: Beauty within tragedy, hope in the face of despair. An orphan of sorts, troubled and unstable within walls of utmost sophistication, a Cleaver household. Uncanny friendships. Muddled relationships. Intense scrutinization and severe detachment. Kindness and crookedness. Innocence and downright murder. And then- an all-white canvas of a chained bird, a stark resemblance and contrast to the storyline, living amid the chaos.

I don’t want to give any of the book away: The character development is just too powerful when you don’t have a clue what the book is about. So if you haven’t read it yet, 1. Don’t let its size intimidate you 2. Glaze over anything that feels like a nuisance and 3. Don’t watch the movie trailer until the end! I am curious to know your thoughts about the cast once you see it, post story completion. For me, it was right on.

Final Score: 4: An expertly written modern tale that proves that there is beauty in the breakdown. Keep reading, even if you don’t want to: The last 30 pages make it all worthwhile.

BEST FOR: Readers Who Love A Good Challenge

NOT GOOD FOR: Sensitive Readers- There Are Some Pretty Thematic Scenes In The Story (Violence, Excessive Drug Use, Language, Etc.) I would say that this book is rated PG-13.

IF THIS BOOK/ AUTHOR WAS A HIGH SCHOOL STEREOTYPE: The Quiet Transfer Student

**Want to see what I’m reading next? Find me on GoodReads and join the 2019 challenge with me! https://www.goodreads.com/addingpunctuation**

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