The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt: A decade after her last novel, Tartt has written a wide-ranging, emotionally trenchant masterpiece that follows the life of Theo, a 14-year-old Manhattanite, who loses his mother, steals a painting and sets off on a journey worthy of Dickens. [EW grade: B–. Clark Collis differed on this one, calling Tartt's latest "long on well-drawn incident but short on engaging plot."]
And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini: A father gives away his daughter to a wealthy man in Kabul, setting into motion a novel that moves through war, separation, birth, death, deceit and love. On the heels of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, Hosseini has proven that lightning can strike thrice. [EW grade: A. I wrote, "With his third and most ambitious novel yet, Hosseini makes it clear that he's not ready to rest on his Big Name."]
Thank You for Your Service by David Finkel: From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Good Soldiers comes a mesmerizing nonfiction account of the day-to-day hope and pain that soldiers carry upon returning home. As Finkel writes: “while the truth of war is that it’s always about loving the guy next to you, the truth of the after-war is that you’re on your own.”
Life After Life: A Novel by Kate Atkinson: What if you could be born again and again? This brilliant, multi-layered novel answers that question as Atkinson’s protagonist moves through multiple lives, each one an iteration on the last, flirting with the balance between choice and fate. [EW grade: A. Leah Greenblatt said of Life After Life, "It's all so richly imagined and ingeniously executed that the mystery feels right. Her domestic vignettes and wide-screen portraits of wartime resonate with startling physical and emotional clarity."]
Pilgrim’s Wilderness: A True Story of Faith and Madness on the Alaska Frontier by Tom Kizzia: When the “Pilgrim” family rolled into the old mining outpost of McCarthy, Alaska, they were a sight to behold: Robert “Papa Pilgrim” Hale, his wife Country Rose, and their 15 children. But dark secrets lurked behind their congenial faces, ones that shocked a frontier community.
What was the best book you read in 2013, ONTD?