Little, Brown and Company
The Goldfinch is the story of troubled Theo Decker’s life from adolescence to adulthood. After his mother was killed in a terrorist attack at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, traumatized Theo absconds with the titular, real-life painting. What follows is a coming-of-age story with a dash of the criminal underworld thrown in. The Goldfinch won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.
The Goldfinch is a character-driven work that features a cast of complex, memorable people; among them is the charming delinquent Boris, elderly antique dealer Hobie, and the wealthy and damaged Barbour family. At 784 pages, the story is leisurely-paced and richly-detailed. Tartt employs the symbolism of the famous painting of a bird chained to a perch that relates multiple characters’ lives and obsessions; everyone is chained to something: addictions, memories, or another person. The tone is quite melancholy, and though the book is long, the author describes characters’ journeys through loss and grief so lyrically it propels the story forward.
Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Burnt is the tale of fourteen-year-old June who is mourning the loss of her beloved uncle in 1987. This is a YA book, but readers who like a haunting coming-of-age story will like Burnt’s portrait of grief. This story also features quirky characters
The Secret History is Donna Tartt’s first novel and features similar pacing and stylistic complexity. Like The Goldfinch, it is a coming-of-age story that details the often debauched youth of several characters and employs both symbolism and elements of danger.
She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb is about the troubled life of Delores Price. It is similarly-paced, engaging, and melancholy. There are multiple characters, both sympathetic and cruel. Delores ultimately overcomes her horrific childhood and adolescence, and the ending is uplifting.