Jonathan Safran Foer made his name well known in the publishing world with his first break out book Everything is Illuminated. However it was his book Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close that has made him a household name. The book has recently been adapted to a movie staring Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock, hitting theaters Friday January 20th. The movie has made a lot of waves causing protests and numerous attempts to stop it from being shown. I do not understand the protests and it is extremely clear that the people protesting have not bothered to read the book.
Yes it is being advertised as a movie about September 11th, however that topic is just a minor plot point within the book itself. The real story of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is so much more then a tale of the heart wrenching tragedy that changed the world we live in.
I fell in love with the main character, nine-year-old Oskar Schell by the end of page two, and my heart broke for him by the end of chapter two. The story does not take place on September 11th or even the day after. It opens about a year later; Oskar is still struggling with the death of his father in the World Trade Center while also dealing with his resentment towards his mother and her new “ friend”. A lot of the book features flashbacks and stories that don’t always fit with exactly what is going on. However you must keep in mind that the book is being told from the point of view of a vividly brilliant, poetically, and un-rationally afraid nine year-old.
As the story unfolds we find Oskar sitting in his father closet remembering the scavenger hunts him and his father used to play. In the untouched closet he finds his father’s tuxedo sitting on the chair, and a blue vase with a tiny envelope inside. He instantly decides that both of these are out of place and are clues to a scavenger hunt his father had yet to start with him. As he pulls down the vase he has no idea that the envelopes contents are about to take him on a life-changing journey.
Inside he finds a key, and the word Black written in red on the back of the envelope. His life is suddenly consumed with finding the lock this key goes to. He decides the only clue he has is in the name Black and begins a journey to visit everyone with the last name Black in the phone book. Along his journey he unknowingly helps the people he meets overcome their hardships and pain. He meets a gentleman who hadn’t left his apartment is 25 years, nor turned on his hearing aids. Oskar gives him the courage to hear for the first time in 25 years.
The story is a heartbreakingly beautiful tale of how a young boy overcomes losing a loved one, even worse a parent. It is a concept that everyone can relate to and silently struggles with. As Oskar fights to hold on to his father with his last scavenger hunt, he is desperate to discover what the key goes to. He is struggling to let go while his heart is desperately holding on.
This is one of those rare books that will change how you look at life and you will want to read it over and over again. You will find your self-laughing as Oskar marches literally to the beat of his own tambourine and you will cry and he struggles with the concept of death. On a scale of 1 to 10 my personal rating is 10. It is a book everyone should have on his or her shelf.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close receives a PARLÉ
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