We were determined to ignore whatever needed to be ignored, to build a new world from nothing if nothing in our world could be salvaged.
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
What It Is
Nine-year-old Oskar Schell is am an ambitious child, spending his time inventing, learning, acting, making jewelry, and more. After his father dies in one of the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001, Oskar feels a lot of different emotions: anger at his mother for seemingly moving on; fear of many things, from elevators to public transportation to bridges; empathy for the many people around him, like a homeless man he passes frequently on the street. He appears to be suffering from PTSD and insomnia after the tragic events that took his father, and he looks for ways to be close to his father once more.
One day while exploring through his father’s closet, he comes across a blue vase he’d never seen before. While reaching for it, his hand slips, and the vase falls to the floor, shattering. Among the broken glass, he discovers an envelope with the word “Black” written across the front of it. Opening the envelope, he finds a mysterious key.
The novel is the tale of Oskar searching for the lock, meeting new people along the way, and trying to find evidence of his father along the way. It’s a truly heartbreaking story and one that will stick with you long after you finish it.
What I Loved
The novel is written from three points-of-view, Oskar being one of them. I’m hesitant to say who the other narrators are because I feel it’s best to just let the story unfold for yourself. Foer does a wonderful job of making Oskar’s narration seem believable coming from a nine-year-old character. The book is also great for taking a terrible, tragic event, and dealing with it in a relatively light-hearted way, while still maintaining elements of tragedy and heartbreak.
This was also the first book I’ve read by Jonathan Safran Foer, and I was a huge fan of his writing style in this book. I’ll be reading Everything is Illuminated soon, I’m sure.
What I Disliked
When I first began the novel, I had a hard time relating to the main character, Oskar, because he seemed so annoying and unlikable to me. After the first hundred pages, however, he grew on me. I sort of believe my initial aversion to Oskar is simply based on the fact that I’m not a fan of child narrators.
Buy. It’s important to remind ourselves of the tragedies that occurred in New York City, Washington DC, and Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001. For many people, it’s easier to remember through fiction. This is definitely a book I’ll be reading again.