|Fabritius' "The Goldfinch" (1654)|
What Donna Tartt does so remarkably well is to get into the mind of a 13-year-old boy trying to make good decisions with the kind of dumb logic that makes for mistakes instead. I haven't been in that mindset in (*ahem!*) years, and it was so well-rendered that I found myself protesting out loud at the decisions Theo makes: from the perspective of an adult, and easy thing to do. What that means is commitment—to become invested in the character's well-being even after he has made too many mistakes.
Ultimately, this story is for mothers of sons. It is a study of adolescence blown into adulthood (which seems to touch on an 21st-century American angst) with a character rendered so sympathetically, the desire to carry and guide will be strong in the reader. Which is a metaphysical kind of preservation: while we watch Theo's world decay, we struggle ourselves to help the character stay preserved, unsullied, and (in this world) impossibly innocent.
~ James, May 2014