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Composed of a master’s abilities, The Goldfinch is a darkened odyssey through today’s America and a drama of fascinating power and acuity.

It starts with a kid. An incident that murders his mom miraculously maintains Theo Decker, a 13-year-old New Yorker. Theo is drawn in by a rich friend’s household, abandoned by his dad. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don’t understand how to speak to him, and tortured above all by his painful desire for his mom, he clings to one item that reminds him of her: a tiny, strangely captivating sculpture that eventually attracts Theo into the underworld of architecture.

As an infant, Theo passes silently between the rich’s drawing rooms and an antique store’s dirty labyrinth where he operates. He is alienated and in touch-and at the core of an ever more threatening, widening loop.

The Goldfinch is a novel of startling energy and strength in the narrative. It mixes unforgettably vibrant personalities, hypnotic language, and amazing suspense while mixing the greatest mysteries of friendship, identification, and architecture with the calm of a philosopher. It’s a lovely, all-night stay-up and tell-all-your-friends triumph, an old-fashioned tale of failure and addiction, death and self-invention, and cruel machinations of destiny.