Book Review · Life

Book Review: The Secret History by Donna Tartt

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This book was too good not to share, I think I’m going to be raving about it until something else comes along.

I came across this book on one of those Pinterest lists titled “65 Books to Read in Your 20s” or something along those lines.  I have always always always been an avid reader. In college I didn’t give myself enough time to read for fun and I’ve decided I’ll never let that be the case again.  My mom also really enjoys reading and always reads on her lunch break at work.  I was convinced that I didn’t have enough time to read and then I thought about times when I could multi task and add reading into what I’m doing, like my mom does at work.  The summer of 2012 I moved home and had just received a Kindle for graduation. I spent a LOT of time at the gym after work, mostly because I had nothing better to do and living with my parents at 22 was seriously cramping my independence.  I started bringing my Kindle with me and reading while I was on the cardio machines. I was immediately hooked.

Now I literally cannot stand going to the gym if I don’t have my Kindle with me.

It’s actually kind of an incentive to get me to go if I’m feeling lazy. I just remind myself that I get to read!

Anyways, where were we? So at the end of this summer, in August, I finished a horrible book that I forced myself to get through just because I was genuinely curious about the ending.  After I finished it, I realized I had wasted so much time on nothing.  So I started scrounging book lists for a more highly reviewed book that had some depth to it.  This one caught my eye right away and was described as a book better read before college.  I’m going to totally botch what that actual wording was, but basically it said it warned what can happen when an exclusive organization takes things too far.

I think whoever wrote these little blurbs about the books was referring to Greek life when they said that, since secret societies don’t really exist outside of the Ivy League (and if they do I’m oblivious) so I was curious.

To summarize the book, it is about a young man named Richard who transfers from a school in California to a small, private school in Vermont.  Although it was not his original intention, he ends up being invited to study Greek with a very exclusive group of students on campus.  There are 5 other students, Richard being the 6th, and they have almost all their classes together.  Their unique interpersonal relationships intrigue Richard, as well as the secrecy surrounding many aspects of their lives.  Richard slowly integrates himself into the group and discovers some dark, twisted secrets, some of them unthinkable.  Before he knows it, he’s not just hearing about the horrible things they have done, he has become part of them. The book is narrated from his prospective looking back on his naivety.

There is a large amount of reference made to Greek culture and language, something I know a minimal amount about, but my lack of knowledge in that area didn’t keep me from enjoying the story or understanding it.

This book is pretty dark, so if you are looking for a light, happy read, this is not it.  Despite it’s dark undertones, it’s complexity and mystery are extremely appealing and keep you wanting to read more.  Like I said, I started this book at the very end of August and finished it maybe a week or so ago, so it took me almost 2 months to read it.  It is really long.  I have it on my Kindle but I think it said it was 500+ pages in print.

This is a book you have to make a commitment to, but it’s definitely worth it!

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