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The Little Friend Unknown Binding – Jan 1 2002


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Product Details

  • Unknown Binding
  • Publisher: NY Vintage Books 2002 (2002)
  • ASIN: B003AKI04A
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (470 customer reviews)

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Nina on Jan. 18 2007
Format: Hardcover
Every other reviewer was disappointed by the ending of "The Little Friend." Could this be because so many people are reared on a diet of "and they lived happily ever after?" The novel isn't about Robin, or Danny, or solving a mystery. The novel is about those uncomfortable months between being a child and something more. It's about a time in Harriet's life. The book ends when that time ends. It's that simple.

We all want closure and had this been a typical mystery it would be disappointing that everything wasn't spelled out in the end. A skillfull writer, Ms. Tartt, refrains from lecturing us and, instead, shows us the abrupt conclusion of Harriet's childhood.

It's not a pretty book in that it follows formulaic rules; therein lies its power for me and other friends. When I closed the cover on my first reading I was quiet for a long time, remembering my own moment of awareness, understanding that I was more than just a child and now empowered with enough stubborness and passion to influence the lives of grownups. The time is bittersweet and painful. Things will never be as they were.

As a writer I know characters talk to their writers and maybe Harriet stopped talking so Tartt stopped writing. Just take it as it comes. The shock we feel at the end of the book is the same shock Harriet feels with her own realizations. Spelling it out would never have allowed us to be there.

As for ladders that conveniently break and all the other "saved by the bell" moments in any book, it is what it is. This is not an action novel it's a character-driven one and to appreciate it I think the reader has to reach back to their own years eleven and twelve.

Variety is the spice of life. There are books I abhore that others love and the opposite is true. Maybe you should read it again, knowing about the ending and savor the words, the pictures, and taste the ice cream eaten on a scorching Mississippi day.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By 27Cathy10 on Aug. 21 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
What a wonderful story. Imaginative, creative, humourous, human. I can highly recommend it. The book gives us great insight into Mississippi life - before the advent of air-conditioners apparently - and the suble nuances in southern society. I loved the child's perspective. Although the children seem to be the most observant witnesses to the adults' stories and dramas, they remain "invisible". They act on what they think is right, but only have snippets of the larger picture. It all comes together in the end in a wonderous and marvelous way. Donna Tartt is nothing short of a great story-teller.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Tartt Fan from Ole Miss on June 29 2004
Format: Paperback
The point of this novel isn't 'Who killed Robin.' This novel highlights the turning point between Harriet's childhood and adulthood. A child's view of life is that everything has a reason. Everything ends neatly in a package tied with a bow. "The Little Friend" shows that this idea isn't true. The truth is that a child can not solve a murder that happened when she was an infant. It is rather odd that one goes into the novel with this idea. Everything in Harriet's life changed the summer she decided to solve her brother's murder. This quest is simply a backdrop to the events happening around her; it is not the main theme of the story.
While I do agree that the ending left me feeling cheated; it seemed to just end, as if her editor told her it must be 'this long.'
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By "jammmebrwn" on Dec 15 2002
Format: Hardcover
It's hard for me to believe that some reviewers, who evidently like literary fiction, would give this book a bad review. It just goes to show it takes all kinds. I loved the book and have recommended it to several friends. I thought the characters came alive off the page, and the plot moved along nicely. It was so interesting, I couldn't put it down and lost a lot of sleep trying to finish it. I loved the ending and Tartt's use of the water tower was foreshadowed well and rounded up everything perfectly. The only reason I gave it four stars instead of five was because there is no easy solution at the end. It left me wanting a little more, but other than that, it was A plus.
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Format: Hardcover
I really enjoyed this book. The characters took over the relatively minor plot points and made them come alive. I couldn't put the book down, but your enjoyment will entirely depend on the style of writing that you enjoy. I found it a pleasing mix of character development and plot, and I personally LOVED the Ratliffs, especially "Gum." What an embodiment of true evil in the character of somebody's grandmother. I think I've known people like her: so ignorant it hurts, passive aggressive and so cruel she destroys everyone in her path. The Ratliffs were trash, no doubt about it, and preordained to stay that way because of their parents and grandparent, so there was a lot of pathos about lives that could have gone another way. (None of this was actually stated. You could read it between the lines.) If you like books with high action and a conclusive ending, you may be disappointed. I almost was, but the book was such a pleasure to read I give it four stars. Close to perfect.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Grant McKee on July 7 2004
Format: Paperback
Oh, dear. What happened to Donna Tartt? Apparently, writing one masterful novel (The Secret History) gave her the lofty ambition to tackle this 600+ page sprawling, aimless novel of adolescence in the south. Her writing, not surprisingly, is both vivid and glaringly beautiful, drawing attention away from the bland, pointless story. In fact, the plot (or lack thereof) is my only real complaint about this novel, but what a complaint it is. Overall, the writing is magnificent, the setting is real, and the characters shine through the page like they were standing right in front of you. If only I could have cared about what happened to them.
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