Even fans of “The Secret History” used to think of Donna Tartt’s “The Little Friend” as a drop in quality. They had waited for a decade to see more borderline- yaoi Vermont school drama and instead they got a sweltering Southern mystery, mostly involving a teenage Mississippian, Harriet, as she comes into unpleasant contact with the adult world (while a mockingbird no doubt gets killed off in a bush somewhere.)
I, who wasn’t a particular fan of “The Secret History,” found “The Little Friend” a slight improvement over the big debut. The book’s reputation is changing; with each award Tartt gets for “The Goldfinch,” Harriet’s little world is bound to get new visitors.
What they will find is that there aren’t even traces of originality in the plot: Tartt cheerily plucks out what she needs from “Stand by Me”+ Harper Lee + “Harriet the Spy” + Tom Sawyer running after Injun Joe + frikkin “Steel Magnolias”. “The Little Friend” is overwritten but evocative, and every now and then overcomes its bloat to fly into genuine poetry, (the fever dream scene is a stand-out.)
RATING : GOOD ENOUGH