Becky’s One Hundred and Twenty-Third Book Review: “The Little Friend” by Donna Tartt

I honestly cannot remember how long ago it was that I bought “The Little Friend” by Donna Tartt. I thought it looked good, it was obviously a murder mystery which I always enjoy, and there were quotes all over the book cover about how “The Little Friend” is a classic in its own time. I couldn’t wait to read it, but as someone who enjoys savoring things that I am sure I will enjoy (like dark chocolate or Tracy Chevalier novels) I waited. And waited. And I went browsing in my personal library and brought it downstairs at least four times (each time returning it after a few weeks back to the third floor) and finally I decided it was time to read “The Little Friend”. 

“…when the Cleves chose to agree on some subjective matter it became – automatically and quite irrevocably – the truth, without any of them being aware of the collective alchemy which had made it so.” (The Little Friend, pg 19). This is a great example of the unique writing style that Tartt displays throughout “The Little Friend”. She is without a doubt, a talented writer.

“The Little Friend” is about a family that experiences an extreme tragedy. The family is celebrating mother’s day and the only son in the family is discovered hanging by his neck in the yard. No one knows what happened and the family is left scarred for life. The dead boy, Robin, leaves behind two sisters. The main character in this book is Harriet, the youngest child. She was only four when Robin was killed and she is determined to find her brother’s killer and bring them to justice.

It was a very interesting read to say the least. Reading about a family’s brokenness after a great tragedy — it is a unique pain that most people will luckily never have to experience. And what made this book stand out even more is that it was focused around Harriet. She was only four when her brother was killed and yet her life is so profoundly affected by his death. Partly because her family crumbles around her and she grows up in a horribly depressing environment. Partly because she develops a morbid fasciation with Robin’s death.


Harriet has such a deprived childhood that she develops her own thickness to the world. “‘The trick,’ he’d said in the movie, ‘is not to mind that it hurts.’ In the vast and ingenious scheme of suffering, as Harriet was now beginning to understand it, this was a trick well worth learning.” (The Little Friend, pg 472). It was really interesting to read about Harriet’s inner strength as she grows.

I’ll say this, Donna Tartt has a crazy imagination. She is also a very good writer and I found myself devouring most of her book. There were several parts that were rather upsetting, but overall I really enjoyed it. That is, until the end. I did not like the way that the book ended, but the rest of the book was so entertaining and well done that I think I will be picking up more of Donna Tartt’s works. Would I recommend this book? I don’t know…I mean it was really well written, but I felt like the ending was a let down. It was a good read, and I will probably look into her other novels. I don’t think “The Little Friend” is for everyone, but there are some who may enjoy it. 


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