Customer Reviews for

The Little Friend

Average Rating 3
( 93 )
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(29)

4 Star

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(13)

2 Star

(19)

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(20)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

23 out of 24 people found this review helpful.

Brilliant. Fascinating. Disturbing.

I sort of want to scream when I read lukewarm reviews of this book. Admittedly, people may get the wrong idea when they read the back jacket, or the first few pages, and anticipate some sort of murder mystery thrill.
The death of Harriet's brother is merely background ...
I sort of want to scream when I read lukewarm reviews of this book. Admittedly, people may get the wrong idea when they read the back jacket, or the first few pages, and anticipate some sort of murder mystery thrill.
The death of Harriet's brother is merely background for her character. The skill with which Tartt explores the inner workings and thought processes of a virtually abandoned 12 year old girl whose older brother's murder has never been solved cannot be praised highly enough. Do you remember what your thought processes were like when you were 12? I sure as hell don't. But Tartt seems to have magically leaped over that crevasse that separates us from our youth, and from understanding the mysterious social workings of 12 year olds.

I found this book, though lengthy, to be absolutely riveting.

Donna Tartt uses her extensive knowledge of the South to create a book that isn't so much a story as a look into someone else's culture (me not being from the South). The book mainly focuses on a little girl growing up in the aftermath of her dear brother's unsolved murder, and the impact that level of tragedy can have on a family.

It took me a little while to get into it, but once I did I really enjoyed this book. It took me about a month to read it, but overall I found it very satisfying. Tartt has a nice way with words, able to explain and detail things at length but in an easy-flowing kind of way. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a long comfortable summer read.

posted by steamyfan on April 19, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

6 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

WORST BOOK EVER

I was so angry after finishing this book that I threw it on the floor and ranted for about 15 minutes. Not only do you not find out who killed the little boy, but the story just ends at random. No resolution of the story or the characters. It was like having the powe...
I was so angry after finishing this book that I threw it on the floor and ranted for about 15 minutes. Not only do you not find out who killed the little boy, but the story just ends at random. No resolution of the story or the characters. It was like having the power go out fifteen minutes before finding out the end of CSI. Does the huge amount of evidence left behind get Harriet, or does she get away with it simply because she's a kid? I felt cheated and robbed. Don't bother reading this book. EVER.

posted by Anonymous on January 17, 2005

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  • Posted January 2, 2013

    At first, I was enthralled by this novel. Tonally, it reminded

    At first, I was enthralled by this novel. Tonally, it reminded me a great deal of 'To Kill a Mockingbird', and not just because the protagonist is a little girl; there are allusions to race and the youthful realization that there is a divide that is ugly and about which people don't want to speak (among other things). However, as pages turned and time elapsed, I found this book to be a bore. I hung on for a mystery that was of no consequence and instead got sucked into an implausible and exhausting plot that didn't really explore racism much at all, and didn't really capture the south particularly well; it just ping-ponged between Harriet and a cast of characters who were at times charming, but for the most part didn't make a difference one way or another. Harriet was a strong character with nowhere to go and no one to go there with. Stylistically, Ms. Tartt would leap out at us at times with brilliant turns of phrase, but at other times metaphors seemed forced, like contrivances in an old noir detective novel. It felt like a prosaic skip down familiar territory with an author who could wordsmith admirably.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 17, 2005

    A test of patience

    The Little Friend was a needlessly long book. So long, in fact, that I found myself flipping ahead to see how many more pages until a chapter break. Had this not been a book club selection I would have quit long before the cat died. I persevered only to be disappointed with the confusing and practically unbelievable ending.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2004

    Atmosphere not enough

    It took me years to read Tartt's The Secret History because it had been so hyped in the media I felt it was probably overrated. And it had been. But it was an excellent story. The Little Friend is a complete disappointment. Atmosphere is not enough, Donna Tartt, especially when you set your reader up at the beginning of the story for ... well more, much more. The novel is filled with cliches and the black maid is the least of them. Violent, drug dealing poor whites -- and really what was the point of the little snot-nosed kids who occasionally showed up-- somnolent female southern gentry too incompetent to take care of her children, feisty adolescents slipping out of the house to bicycle their way to danger, the weird sisters (albeit four instead of three). The list goes on and on. What is worst than the stereotypes that strained toward realism, and the overwritten passages that strained the reader's patience, is that Tartt left several plot lines simply dangling. I suppose she's trying to tell us, 'That's life!' Well, she could have done that in ... oh ... 200 fewer pages.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 4, 2004

    Not the Only One It Seems

    I am so glad that I'm not the only one that didn't enjoy this book, and I gave it every chance. I hate realizing I don't like a book, but this one was a snooze, a bore, and downright terrible. It kept going on and on and on and on...in circles no less. I'm giving Donna Tartt another chance because I'm wanting to read The Secret History and it looks like it's written completely different.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 29, 2004

    Fooled me twice!

    Donna Tartt's excellent writing in The Secret History overcame my dismay with the plot and tempted me to try again with The Little Friend. Ms. Tartt's descriptive writing is beautiful; unfortunately, her plots sink beneath the dense writing. Her forays into humor (in The Little Friend) sparked some life into the story but the pointlessness of the plot erased any kind feelings towards this novel.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 31, 2004

    Friendless

    'The Secret History' was one of my favorite books, so I grabbed this when it was first published. Disappointing plot and characters.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2004

    623 Pages and still no ending

    While I found the story of the Cleve family interesting-good character development-the book is all wind up and no pitch. The story summary talks about the hunt for little Robin's killer and yet, after 623 pages, Tartt is no closer to solving the murder than in the beginning. She spends all of the book on the family relationships and very little resolution-more like a 'summer in the life of'...She also leaves major events unresolved-Harriet's misdiagnosed epilepsy? Harriet's relationship with Danny? and ends with little Hely trying to spill his guts to older brother Pemberton. I've gotten straighter stories out of my kids. Worse, she fails to conclude with any insight Harriet's journey over the period of the book.Some of the book is readable, likable even, but it doesn't hang together overall. My conclusion is that the book is as dysfunctional as the families it portrays and does not live up to the critical reviews (the sole reason I bought it).

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 20, 2003

    Zzzzzzz

    Wow. This is hands-down, one of the most mind-numbingly boring books I've ever read. Well, to be fair, I only made it to page 220. I stuck it out for as long as I could, but when it continually failed to grab and keep my attention, I gave up. It is a shame, really, because I flipped to about page 500 and it looked a bit more interesting, but I couldn't endure another 200+ pages. I read Tartt's The Secret History and couldn't put it down. This one I cringed to pick back up. It was pretty well-written, but just b-o-r-i-n-g. I didn't give a darn about any of the characters, and couldn't stand the little brat Harriet. And sorry, I don't buy the concept of a 12-year old solving the mystery of her brother's death some 10 years before. Oh, and if you love animals as I do, you will find it difficult to read some portions of the book. Some of the acts described in the book are outright cruel, with others bordering on cruelty. If you want a good book to fall asleep to, it's a thumbs-up for The Little Friend. Otherwise, spend your money elsewhere.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2003

    Disappointing

    After so much hype about this book I was truly looking forward to reading it. I agree with another reader, the mother should have been slapped. The book was long, drawn-out, and came to no conclusion at all. Maybe in another 10 years she might decide to write a follow-up. I for one won't be holding my breath though.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 28, 2003

    Disappointment

    I enjoyed the first part of this book and then it changed into an action book, which was very disappointing. I did not expect Harriet to 'solve' the murder, but that whole story line just disappeared when the action part started. This book is schizophrenic and a real disappointment after the Secret History.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2003

    Made for the movies

    You know how there are movies made for video? Well, I think Donna Tartt's second novel was made for movies. It reads more like a screen play than a book with so much unnecessary detail that it could have been whittled down to half its size and still have twice the impact, making it more like her far better first novel. A novel differs from a movie in that it allows the reader space to engage creatively with the work and form their own mental imagery. The Little Friend stripped the reader of the stimulation that a novel ought to afford, I'd rather wait for the movie, which I think is what Donna Tartt is doing.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2003

    I have rarely been so dissappointed.

    As disappointing as it was pretentious, this book failed to meet the lowest of expectations. The characters were flat, the plot forced, and the ending hollow. The Secret History was a wonderful book and I had eagerly looked forward to Ms. Tartt's next work. I do not enjoy reading books that raise reading to a vocation and rob the reader of immersion. I hope the next book is both less of an effort and reads like a novel not a text.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 24, 2002

    Couldn't get through it

    Loved the Secret History, but pushed myself to get through half this book. I rarely put a book down without finishing it, but this one was torture.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 2002

    Halfway done and should I finish???

    After reading THE SECRET HISTORY I eagerly began THE LITTLE FRIEND. Halfway through I must ask myself if this is the same author? The plot rambles, the characters do not emotionally involve the reader and the story lackes the intensity and urgency of the authors first book. Overall, disappointing.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 18, 2002

    A Little Bored

    I loved the Secret History and bought "The Little Friend" almost the minute it came out. However, I agree with several other reviewers - repetitive, overly long and boring in parts. I also expected some resolution to the murder, considering it is central to the story. I think I'll re-read The Secret History.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 4, 2002

    professional but soulless..

    I read the first 140 pages and gave up. the book reads like a Hollywood script that has been worked on by multiple talented writers. individual scenes work wonderfully, yet it all seems so pointless. Tartt wants to deliver big sales, but to remain an artiste'. It doesn't really work. Donna should forget about her place in Literature and publish. Her many fans deserve more than this overblown Gothic work. TSH was about real people and believable situations, acutely observed. This is about as realistic as an afternoon playhouse.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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