Extremely Flawed Characters

I know... I know... I've hinted in my last book post that I bought The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, and I was perfectly fine with waiting until the end of the month to recap.... UNTIL... I went to the most amazing book club meetup tonight!

First, let me backup by saying that I had met with this group a year and a half to two years ago and kind of wrote it off as not being for me, plus I got super busy at work, and broke due to the holidays... blah blah blah.

Well, one of my oldest friends, Eden, asked me to join an online book club with her that was reading this book.  I happened to look at the Boulder meetup group and found they were also reading it, so I took it as a sign.

The online meeting group did not really get much of a discussion going outside of "I like this book", or "I didn't because the characters are shitty people".

I have to state that I personally, LOVE this book!  And after tonight's meeting I realized why!  I am completely head over heels in love with characters who have bad things happen to them and they spend their lifetime trying to get over it, they make mistakes, they make their situations worse by the choices they make, and in the end they've finally come to terms and they've accepted their lot in life and then the story just ends.  No pretty bow.  No riding off into the sunset.  It's realistic and it's raw and I LOVE IT!

I also, have to say there were two pretty amazing realizations I had at this meeting.  Someone asked, "What did you guys think of the mother in the book?"  Of course, everyone loves this character, if you read it you know what I'm talking about.  How could you not?  She is the main character's world and since it's written from his perspective, of course you too, will love his mom!  Then someone asks, "What do you think about his dad?"  I was one of the most firm responders, "I hated him, there's no excuse to be that kind of person, ugh!"  And some people were trying to show sympathy, be empathetic!  What?!?!?!?  The man is a raging alcoholic, his kid goes through his life walking on pins and needles never knowing what's going to set his dad off next, what kind of mood is he coming home in?  Even the reader feels this anxiety.  Or is that just me and my own daddy issues?!?  Someone even stated how they thought it was unrealistic that this woman would stay with this man.  Hello!  You must have never been the receiver of an alcoholic's apologies and how they guilt you in to loving them more, or giving them one more chance, or how they sway you to believe they want to change.  I thought the author handled this relationship between an alcoholic parent and a child flawlessly... so good!  All the emotions that come with a relationship like that, goodness.

Some of these people in this book club just could not get over why Theo (the kid, the main character) has such a hard time being a good person, getting his act together, making the right choices.  It's called ADVERSITY!!!!  And I don't expect people who have had smooth sailing lives to get it.

I mean, I get that we all have "stuff", we all have "baggage" or "ghosts in our closets", but let's be real... some people get dealt a way shittier hand in life... and it's frigging hard to surmount.  It's hard to grapple with.  And sometimes the best a person can come up with is just accepting all the bullshit for what it is.  And sometimes that is the happy ending.  The moment when the character is doing the best they can, while keeping every finger and toe crossed that some other huge event isn't just waiting around the corner to knock them on their ass again.

*I know this post probably doesn't make much sense... but in a world where we are sold happiness in every way possible, in a world where we are constantly told "to fake it till we make it" or that "God never gives us more than we can handle" or that "Your life will change, when you change the way you tell your story to yourself, stop playing the victim"... If you just meditate more, work out more, keep pushing... it will all get better.  It's exhausting.  And I love those characters that force the beautiful, positive people of the world to be uncomfortable.  The character that looks you straight in the eye, and the sheer amount of wounds and brokenness makes most want to look away.  I relish those empty, dark, sad parts of people.  That is where the meat is.  Most people are afraid to go there.

I love these people (even the fictional ones).  The broken and downtrodden.  I get them.  I celebrate them.