BOOK REVIEW: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer


Title: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
Author: Jonathan Safran Foer
Publication: April 4, 2006
Publisher: Mariner Books Classics
Genre: General Fiction
Pages: 368


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SYNOPSIS (From Goodreads)

In a vase in a closet, a couple of years after his father died in 9/11, nine-year-old Oskar discovers a key…

The key belonged to his father, he’s sure of that. But which of New York’s 162 million locks does it open?

So begins a quest that takes Oskar – inventor, letter-writer and amateur detective – across New York’s five boroughs and into the jumbled lives of friends, relatives, and complete strangers. he gets heavy boots, he gives himself little bruises and he inches ever nearer to the heart of a family mystery that stretches back fifty years. But will it take him any closer to, or further from, his lost father?


When I was picking books for my book club to read I settled on this one.  A: Because it was staring at me from my TBR shelves and B: it was a national bestseller.  I knew I wanted to read it because of the topic that predominantly overshadowed the whole book, 9/11.  I thought that while in our country it is still a sensitive subject but its also something that we sometimes glaze over at times because we don’t want to talk about it. 

Oskar is a 9-year-old boy who lost his father on 9/11.  He was in one of the towers when it was hit and collapsed.  He wasn’t even supposed to be there. He was there for a meeting for his jewelry store.  Oskar is struggling to come to terms with his loss. He doesn’t understand why they had an empty casket funeral for him.  He doesn’t understand why his Mother laughs and has a gentleman.  He finds a key in his father’s belongings and makes it his task to find out what that key goes to. So starts his months-long adventure into NYC boroughs.  First off, you have to understand that while from my memory it’s never confirmed but Oskar is autistic.  A pretty high functioning one at that.  He knows random facts and figures.  So the way that this book is written can be somewhat confusing since it’s written from the mind of an autistic boy.  You may have trouble following conversations because you can’t figure out who is supposed to be talking.  

I really liked the way the author wrote Oskar. It is something that you don’t really see, it’s like we are inside his brain.  At random times there are pictures that pop up in the book that have to do with what Oskar is doing at that moment, a flying cat for his science experiment, a door knob for what he is talking about at that moment, and the biggest one that is ingrained in my mind even from when 9/11 happened is the picture of the guy falling out of one of the towers.  Oskar is convinced that it is his Dad.  The one thing that made me tear up every single time it was written was the saved messages from his Dad from when he called after the towers were hit.  That got me right in the heart every single time.  One of my biggest things was the fact that the Mother honestly just let her 9-year-old child wander around NYC.  Although in the end it seems she was aware of it at the time but still, it seemed like it was too much for the child.  I think I was also bothered by the lack of communication between the two.  Oskar thought one thing about his mother and it took till the end of the book for him to realize that wasn’t the case.  I do think that I will watch the movie that Tom Hanks did, someone from my book club said she watched it and it helped her understand the book tenfold.  I do love Tom Hanks.  I am not sure that I will read more books by this author if they are like this, but I will keep my mind open to it.  

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