extremely loud and incredibly close; a review

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, by Jonathan Safran

Book 6/50

Quick Synopsis: Little boy loses his dad in the 2011 terrorist attacks in NYC. Little boy finds a key in his dads closet, and spends the next year trying to find out where the key fits in to.

I can honestly say that I’ve never read a book quite like this. Here’s why:

–          Characterization:

  • Oksar: The nine year old narrator of the story, the brilliant and hilarious Oskar Schnell, tore my heart out on several occasions. He’s a self-proclaimed inventor, emotionally confused and trying to deal with a situation beyond his control. He lost his father in 9/11, and wants answers. I laughed at his wit, I cried at his vulnerability, and I saw light through his hopefulness and unwillingness to give up.
  • Oskar’s Grandmother: For much of the story, I didn’t understand where she was coming from, and if she was delusional. She referred to a ‘renter’ living in her apartment, who everyone assumed was an invisible friend. We later found out that is her son’s father who came back to live with her after many years of being away. Their relationship is confusing. But then again, most relationships are to the outside eye.

–          Emotion:

  • This novel drew deep emotion out of me. Although it was fiction, the event referenced was definitely real and forever present in the world’s eyes: 9/11. It’s a day in our lives that we’ll always remember. I can recall where I was and who I was with when I heard about the first plane crashing into Twin Towers. I remember being frightened there would be another world war, and heading with my fellow high school students to watch CNN in the auditorium before being sent home early. I remember calling my dad, knowing that he was supposed to be flying over New York City around the time the Twins Towers were hit. 9/11 is top of mind throughout the entire story, keeping the tone morose except with occasional quips from Oskar, his grandmother, and his new friend, 102 year old man who lives in his building.
  • I often read on the elliptical trainer, and let’s just say at the end of the book, I was crying in the middle of the gym.

–          Stream of Consciousness:

  • My favourite book in the world is Catcher in the Rye, and I love reading stream of consciousness writing if executed properly. I thoroughly enjoyed the nine year olds narration. I didn’t take pleasure in the grandmother and grandfather’s voices as much; I thought they were a bit disjointed at times, but Oskar’s chapters always made up for what the others lacked.

When my husband and I lived in Korea, he was recommended this book by a friend of ours, who said it was the best book he’d ever read. While I don’t agree with that review, I can honestly recommend this read to the universe. It’s one of those books that can be enjoyed by a 14 year old or a 100 year old, and anywhere in between. If you have read it, or want to, let me know what you think.

As for the movie: I haven’t watched it yet, but I think I will. I just have to get my Kleenex box out first.

One of many fantastic lines in the story.

One of many fantastic lines in the story.

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