The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt begins with the memory of a mother who died too young and when her son was only thirteen. The Goldfinch is a painting Theo saves from the museum and takes it home. The rest of the 800 pages is about his figuring out how to return it without going to jail for stealing it. He traverses the world, has it stolen from him, recovers it, and eventually returns it without a cost to himself and a question, Why was it painted in the first place?
What happens to us when our parents die is remarkable in so many ways. Our guiding light is dimmed and we now have to rely on ourselves and in some cases we become parents and serve as that guiding light to another until we pass it on. Theo goes through these revelations.
Who would bomb a museum and who would a mother abandon a son and visa versa? Questions asked in Chapter One. Theodore Decker is thirteen and his mother has died in the explosion and he doesn’t know where his father is. He won’t go to his grandparent’s house, so he stays with a very sympathetic family, the Barbours, whose son is a classmate. Mrs Barbour is intrigued by Theo’s ring and tells him not to lose it. Theo takes a trip to the West Village to find out more about the ring from Hobie, the dead man’s friend. Theo is stunned to se his dad with Xandra, an exotic transplant from Fort Lauderdale to Vegas. Theo secures the painting, hides it, and heads out to Vegas for a new life. Well best laid plans of mice and men. “Bad artists copy, good artists steal.” This is a fun, if not long romp through art and literature and coming of age for a young orphan boy with a painting that reminds him of his dead mother.