donna tartt

There it was, calling out to me amidst the piles upon piles of books decorating the library shelves. I was intrigued at the first glance. Gripping the over 600 page book in my hands, I was excited to have finally found a book that highly interested me. From the creepy front cover picture of a doll’s face to the tensely described plot that promised thrills and some deeply hidden secret, I knew I wouldn’t be let down. Several days later and the book finished, I am now highly disappointed and almost sad I wasted so much time reading a book that went absolutely nowhere.

The book I’m referring to is The Little Friend by Donna Tartt that is pictured above. Now Donna Tartt has a best-selling book called The Secret History and a 2014 Pulitzer prize-winning book called Goldfinch. You’d think with those credentials, The Little Friend would be just as worthy of such awards. NOT AT ALL! Honestly, I think a lot of authors are given the distinction of being excellent writers due to their use of excessive melodrama, which is then wrapped up in too much dialogue, setting and description. It’s like they’re trying to be deep and end up too deep to the point no normal person understands the depth. Who cares if an author can write really well if the story sucks! Don’t waste reader’s time! I have yet to read Tartt’s other award-winning books, but I have a feeling I’ll never get around to reading them. Sadly, I started with this book and feel less inclined to read anymore of her work because of it.

The Little Friend is about a 12-year-old girl named Harriet whose family was destroyed years ago when Harriet’s older brother Robin was murdered. He was discovered hanging from a tree in their front yard on Mother’s Day, but no suspect was ever found. Sounds interesting, right? I thought so too. The beginning moments make you think this is going to be an exciting adventure as we follow Harriet on her journey to discovering who murdered her brother all those years ago. But such is not the case. We end up finding out more about Harriet than we ever wanted to know. The whole book is a description of surroundings and the character’s thoughts. There’s some dialogue peppered in, but it’s mostly just description after description after description. We learn a lot about snakes, houses and annoying second characters who don’t even matter in the story.

I guess since I can’t stand authors who rely heavily on setting and description, it makes sense that this book would bore me to tears. I kept thinking something great was going to happen that would justify me reading 600+ pages  of it, but sadly, nothing happened. The ending doesn’t resolve anything, and we’re left wondering what the point of the book is in the first place. I guess if Tartt is trying to show what life is like for a poor, lonely, slightly racist girl in the early ’70s, she did well. But I’m sure that wasn’t her point. The thing is I don’t get the point of the book. Plus most of the characters are despicable. Not even Harriet interests me much. She’s selfish, rude, defiant, and overall annoying.

If you want to read this book for pure curiosity of what I’m talking about, go for it. Or maybe you could just read it to learn an important lesson in what not to do when you write a book, especially one that’s as long as this one. Perhaps, if Tartt had shortened the book more, it might have been a tiny smidge more interesting and I wouldn’t be writing this. Who am I kidding? I hated it.

Anyway, rant over. I’ll let you decide if you want to read it or not. Just please, please, please future authors, don’t waste years of your life writing a story that your audience can’t connect with or even care about. More importantly, don’t waste time on characters who are unlikable, drab, even cliché. Hey, I’m speaking to myself here. If I learned anything from Donna Tartt’s book, it’s that I want to make my future published book/books worth reading.

Kudos to Donna Tartt for spending so long writing such a book with this many words. That’s a lot of talent, but it just doesn’t cut it. I wanted more suspense as the book’s plot promised me I would get but never got it. I wanted a resolution to Robin’s death but never got it. I wanted an ending that justified the hundreds of pages of boredom but never got it. I wanted to love this book but never got the chance.

Proceed with caution if you dare read this, for you will come across many paths of drudgery and monotony. Can’t say I didn’t warn you :p


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