Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – Jonathan Safran Foer

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This book is an interesting and enjoyable read from the perspective of a nine-year old boy. I can honestly say this book surprised me, I did not know what I was delving into but I am glad I picked it up.Oskar Schell lives in Manhattan with his Grandmother after his father was killed a year previously in the September 11th attacks. Left in his father’s possessions Oskar finds a key and makes it his mission to find which lock in the city this key belongs to. This key resembles the remaining connection to his father and Oskar is determined to solve its meaning.

This book looks at and exposes the tragedy and aftermath of September 11th. It is narrated by a young boy who on the surface seems to appear as a child, inquisitive, inventive, clever and sensitive yet as the novel develops I began to sympathise with him. He seems grief stricken, alone, emotional and confused about what is happening and why it’s happening to him. He clutches to what’s left of his father and tries to find the truth behind a key which I believe masks his loss and gives him a new focal point than the grief he’s feeling.

Oskar enjoys trawling the internet meaning he is a trivia genius. He focuses on being everything from a vegan to an astronomer to an archaeologist. I found Oskar humorous, upsetting and a tad annoying. He rambled through the plot and asked question after question. Yet all at the same time I felt sorry for his loss, how his family dealt with grief and the situation he was in.

As Oskar begins his journey around the New York boroughs I couldn’t help but wonder why no-one was worried about a nine-year old boy wandering the streets of New York by himself. However the book is strange overall as his Grandfather and Grandmother seem to be suffering grief in their own ways which in a way were unusual at first but after reading they again were more interesting. Their stories were haunting yet gripping, like most of the book it astonished and interested me to the point where I couldn’t help but keep reading.

If the characters weren’t unusual enough, the style or writing and layout of the book was just as questionable. The book contained pictures form turtles to gorillas to doorknobs and from flicking through the book make no sense, but when reading the plot they strangely fit in like a glove. There are also blank pages where Oskar’s grandmother has forgotten to add a ribbon to the typewriter leaving the reader wondering what she meant to write and why she didn’t amend it or notice.

Overall this was a really interesting and addictive read, as much as it disturbed me that a nine year old was traversing New York by himself. It is a clear representation of grief and the outcome of such tragedies. The entire family in the book are grief stricken and emotional and made me think about the domino effect left behind from one death. It was a sheer acknowledgement of loss and how it is dealt differently by each individual. I thought Foer’s writing style in this novel was unique and intriguing; he created characters of likeable qualities and placed them in the backdrop of a realistic situation. In a way though I felt the plot was surreal, there were so many strange things happening.

I am giving this book 4 out of 5 stars on goodreads because I did enjoy it and the plot. I would recommend giving it a read because the quality of writing, the style and the characters are all big contenders in this book. I think I might even watch the movie now; I’m intrigued to see if they carried across the unusual qualities and quirkiness of the book. Would anyone recommend it?

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3 thoughts on “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – Jonathan Safran Foer

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