Beyond Bestsellers: If You Like The Goldfinch

By Jennifer K.
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt was one of 2013’s big bestsellers. A new movie based on the book, starring Ansel Elgort and Nicole Kidman, is coming out this month.
It’s about Theo Decker, whose life changed explosively one morning when he was thirteen. Theo now has a huge secret, the possession of which warps the course of his life. He grows up confused, dishonest, selfish, occasionally lovable, always protective of a mystery that he dares not reveal. How many of his experiences were avoidable, if things had gone differently that day? How much of his fate formed due to these circumstances?
Did you like The Goldfinch? For the month of September, we’re highlighting similarly rich, character-driven reading experiences. Here you’ll find coming-of-age novels, novels about the effect of loss on young people, novels that explore identity, novels that take a look at the events and experiences that change lives. Some are sorrowful, some are uplifting; most are a combination of both.
If that kind of novel is your jam, read on!

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

“I am a Christian because of Owen Meany,” says John Wheelwright of his lifelong friendship with a very unusual boy. To say more would be to ruin the experience of this big, absurd, complicated book. It’s a meditation upon faith and identity, and at the same time an unputdownable page-turner. An absolute classic: funny and tragic and disturbing at once.

Arcadia by Lauren Groff

Bit Stone is a sensitive child growing up in a utopian commune in the 1970s. Through his innocent eyes we see the seeds of the commune’s destruction: the drugs, the power struggles, the creeping cynicism beneath the hippie idealism. Can an innocent survive the catastrophic fall of his Eden? This novel is lush and thoughtful.

Tell The Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

June is a socially-awkward teen who adores her sensitive uncle Finn. When he dies of an AIDS-related illness, her family blames his longtime partner. But June reaches out to him, and in the process learns some of her family’s complex secrets. A rich and insightful portrait of a family in crisis and a girl on the cusp of womanhood.

The Round House by Louise Erdrich

One cruel morning on the Ojibwe reservation in North Dakota, Geraldine Coutts is brutally attacked. Although the identity of the perpetrator is not a mystery, her case falls through the cracks between state, county, and tribal jurisdictions. Desperate for justice, her thirteen-year-old son Joe finds himself forced to a decision no child should make.

Here are some more novels you might like:

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Do you have other suggestions? Let us know in the comments!

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