Monday, October 27, 2014

Damaged....beyond repair?  Two very different books explore a similar theme...

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt,
Pulitzer Prize 2014
Boy 21 by Matthew Quick 

These two books could not be more different in a lot of ways.  The Goldfinch, 775 pages long and the 2014 Pulitzer Prize winner is the epic story of Theo Decker, told in his own voice, as he struggles with the effects of being in a museum bombing and his mother's death there, and a chance meeting with a dying man.

Boy 21, only 250 pages, is about two boys, both damaged by horrible and traumatic experiences, who manage to find a way out of their emotionally crippled state to live more normal lives.  A big difference is the audience the books are written for.  Another difference is the enormous amount of detail in The Goldfinch, the detailed thoughts and attention to every sensory cue in scenes and dialogs.  Boy 21 on the other hand is almost Spartan in coming to the point and moving on.

Where they mesh is the terrible damage suffered by all three as boys and the struggle they go through to become whole again.  A big question, a theme of The Goldfinch is whether good can come from bad.  This theme is present in Boy 21 as well, when Finley wants to refuse the money that will free him because he knows where it came from.  Both books have characters you will never forget.

The Goldfinch is only recommended for upper level high school and adults.  Boy 21 is recommended for 8th grade and above.

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