Book Recommendation: EXTREMELY LOUD & INCREDIBLY CLOSE by Jonathan Safran Foer
Published in 2005 by Houghton Mifflin, 326 pp.*
Oskar Schell is a nine-year-old struggling with his grief after his father dies in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. One day as he is going through some of his father’s belongings, he finds a key with a very, very small clue which sends him throughout New York to find what the key unlocks. His desperate search keeps his father close as searches for impossible answers on one last scavenger hunt his father unknowingly provides.
Wow. Just wow. This story is so unique. It is told mostly through Oskar’s point of view as well as through letters by his grandparents. There are also pictures inserted along the way as Oskar talks about pictures he has saved. The dialogue is jammed in every line with no breaks in between. That took a little getting used to but it really put me in a nine-year-old’s frame of mind. Oskar has a very high IQ (readers aren’t told that but it is inferred from his level of thought) and what he says can at times blow you away that it came from a child. But his stark adult-like honesty is well-balanced by the fragile state of his emotions. His pain is so palpable it makes you want to reach through the pages and hug him forever.
A subplot is revealed through his grandparents letters to each other, to Oskar’s father, and to Oskar. Their oddities had me scratching my head yet I sped through the pages to get to the heart of their story. Oskar’s mother was basically non-existent, hovering on the edge of child neglect. This bothered me quite a bit until the author shined a brighter light as to why she was on the fringe. The author did a great job of stringing me along. I needed to find out where the pieces of the story fit together and he artfully illuminated more and more of the story to complete my understanding.
I recommend reading this book simply for the unique point of view. It was such a creative way to tell a story that fully expressed the pain, the heartbreak, the desperation, the yearning, the sorrow, and the resignation of those immediately impacted by this horrific event in our country’s history.
This was picked by my book club to read and I can’t wait to hear what my gals thought of it.
If you liked LIFE OF PI by Yann Martel, I highly recommend this book.
*The movie based on this book came out in theaters January 20th and you may have seen some of the previews. The impressive cast includes Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Max Von Sydow, and John Goodman.
I hand wrote the first draft of this book review before I typed it up. Did you honor National Handwriting Day on Monday? If so, how?