This writer has accomplished what I have only imagined in my lifetime. Although, the story is encumbered with drug use, abuse, and profanities, and in certain sections, verbosity, her words held me captive to the end. My favourite genre, Historical Fiction, I read especially for lack of the above reputes. It is said that writing and reading helps you to escape this world. Then why would I care to engage in reading street language, horrors I care to know nothing about, and the results this lifestyle inflicts. Being a foster parent for twenty years, I have seen enough afflictions due to alcohol and drug abuse to last me a lifetime. That being said, I do like crime novels. But smearing profanity across pages and perverse sexual acts disturbs my conscience.
In this particular case, a 12 or 13 year-old child is left behind. Right away, this draws me in. Theo loses his mother in an explosion, and why he took a painting, I am not quite sure. One thing I have learned is that when you hurt emotionally, and someone you love is taken out of your life for good especially at child age, you might become prone to some odd repercussions’. In other words, circumstances may turn you into a not so ordinary an individual.
Fortunately, a friend’s family takes Theo in temporally. He doesn’t feel like he fits in very well. By the end of the novel, he ends up fitting in quite well for a time.
Child and welfare locate the father who then takes Theo to Las Vegas where he and his girlfriend are now situated. Prior to the explosion, the father left Theo and his mother without any family support cheques. It all seems like he is doing the fatherly thing, but it turns out that his motive is greed in the end.
Boris, a young teenager down the street, meets Theo and they become friends. Not a good thing for Theo who struggles enough with his father. The father lives off of gambling and ends up in a major problem, which takes his life in a presumed car accident. Drugs, girls, gambling are factors that change a nice young boy into a mixed-up teenager.
One day, Theo takes a flight back to New York with his picture in a bag just before his father is killed.
Escape from life and its hard-knocks might transform one’s reality into doing whatever is necessary to just plainly survive. Living in constant drudgery and daily downcast conditions may turn the sweetness of one’s spirit into a ‘get me out of here’ and now, runaway.
Theo decides to look up his older friend, Hobi. Hobi opens his arms to the now grown up boy. He offers him a place to stay and Theo helps Hobi with his refurbishing furniture business. In the meantime, Theo would love to have a relationship with Pippa, but she already has a boyfriend. He had met Pippa at Hobi’s in childhood.
Sometime later, Boris ends up back in the story. He is a streetwise Russian, womaniser and a thief. Too much info will spoil your reading of this novel. My heart was drawn to all the characters. Though greed, hard-core drugs, murder and thievery are the nucleus of the novel, the characters made some bad choices, which could teach us lessons.
If you have read this novel, please give me your take. I am anxious to hear other readers’ opinions.
Donna Tartt (Goodreads)
in Greenwood, Mississippi, The United States
December 23, 1963
About this author
Donna Tartt (born 23 December 1963) is an American writer who received critical acclaim for her two novels, The Secret History (1992) and The Little Friend (2002). Tartt was the 2003 winner of the WH Smith Literary Award for The Little Friend.
The daughter of Don and Taylor Tartt, she was born in Greenwood, Mississippi but raised 32 miles away in Grenada, Mississippi. At age five, she wrote her first poem, and she first saw publication in a Mississippi literary review when she was 13 years old.
Enrolling in the University of Mississippi in 1981, she pledged to the sorority Kappa Kappa Gamma. Her writing caught the attention of Willie Morris while she was a freshman. Following a recommendation from Morris, Barry Hannah, then an Ole Miss Writer-in-Residence, admitted Tartt into his graduate short story course where, stated Hannah, she ranked higher than the graduate students. Following the suggestion of Morris and others, she transferred to Bennington College in 1982. There she met Bennington students Bret Easton Ellis and Jill Eisenstadt.