Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Title: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
Author: Jonathan Safran Foer
Pages: 326
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Release Date: April 4, 2005


Loved this!
In fact, I think it might be my new favorite book!

....What can I even say? I'm joining the ranks of people who have fallen in love with this book. It was amazing... and I'm not really even sure that I can fully explain why. But I will try!

For starters, I just think this may have been the most human book I've ever read. Human in that the emotion in this book was so raw. Emotion in the characters; in me, the reader. It's mostly told from the perspective of 9-year-old, Oskar Schell, also quite possibly my favorite character ever. He's super intelligent, strangely precocious, and somewhat socially awkward. He's grappling with the immense grief of losing his father on September 11th. Oskar finds a key in an envelope labeled "Black" in his father's closet, so he decides to embark on a journey to find the lock that the key fits into by visiting everyone in New York's five boroughs with the last name, Black. That journey is essentially the backdrop to a young kid missing his father and learning about life and death. There are also a couple sections written by two other people with a different but similar storyline who have a connection to Oskar.

This was also a powerful depiction of life after September 11th, 2001 for at least one 9-year-old boy. But in the way that Foer makes the book transcend just the one person, just his emotions, just his thoughts, the atmosphere of this novel really enveloped me to where I felt that even though I was reading about Oskar, I was feeling it for myself. Powerful, right??

The synopsis can't do this book justice. I don't know how the author did it, but this wasn't just a book I read. It was more like an experience! I felt like I was transported somewhere and returned with a heart ten times its normal size. I felt like, when I was done, all I wanted to do was hold onto this book, get rid of all my other books, and just read this one over and over again. It's sort of bizarre! I am in awe of Mr. Jonathan Safran Foer for his ability to produce this work of art.

I will say this book was different. There were some visual aspects to the book in the form of pictures or color or font or page layout. It was enough to add a different dimension to the book but few enough that it wasn't distracting or take over the main story. I'll admit there was even a time near the beginning when I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to really get into it, even though I did find it engaging, but I moved on from that quickly. There are some critics out there (because nothing exists that doesn't have critics) who say the author is pretentious and the work contrived. I think with the style of writing Foer utlized, you have to be careful because it does border on it. But I thought Foer absolutely pulled it off!

Some random things I loved:
  • how Oskar would say "what the?" every time he was shocked or confused.
  • how I feel like I got stuff but I know I could read it again and get even more from it
  • how one of the characters had to learn a new way to communicate and how others conformed to that.
  • heavy boots
  • Oskar's "inventions" and questions
  • googolplex
  • how Oskar only wears white. and why.
  • how he defines certain things in his life as his raison d'etre.
Anyway, here's another review by Trish at Love, Laughter, and a Touch of Insanity who also loved this book.

This book is also being turned into a movie coming out in 2012. It stars Tom Hanks, John Goodman, and Sandra Bullock. Oskar will be played by a 12-year-old, Thomas Horn, who was a jeopardy kids' week champion. The kid playing Oskar looks like he's perfect for the role (plus he won at Jeopardy so we know he has the smarts). The only thing is I'm a little heartbroken it's going to be a movie... I'm sure it will be a good one, but there's no way it could possibly compare to the experience of reading the book. I know that's usually the case, but it's especially so in this case. I'm definitely with some of the others that this book won't be for everyone, but for those who like the style, it's absolutely fantastic!!


Booksnyc said...

Thanks for this review! I have the book on my shelf but haven't read it yet. From the sound of your review, I must get to it soon!

Zibilee said...

I read this book such a long time ago, but loved it when I did. Oscar was such a cool character and such and had such a unique voice. It might be time for me to read this one again soon. I am so glad to hear that you loved it!! Wonderful review!

Jenny said...

Colleen: Yes, get to it soon!! I'd love to see what you think!!

Heather: Ooh I'm glad you enjoyed it! I definitely recommend a re-read, lol! I can't to read it again too!

Trish said...

Yes yes yes! The emotion and the heavy boots and the human aspect. All of it. So glad you loved it Jenny!

I'm nervous about the movie too as so much of this book was the visual aspect. We'll see!

Melissa said...

I've been wanting to read this for awhile now. The summary screamed endearing, and unique, glad to know that it is so much more.

Nana Fredua-Agyeman said...

You have sold me, TMA. Now I want to read this. Thanks for increasing my wishlist.!

Jenny said...

Trish: I'm glad I read it! Your reviews was one of the maybe two that convinced me I had to!! So thank you, lol!!

Melissa: I hope you love it!!

Nana: LOL! Read it right away!! Hehe.

nomadreader (Carrie) said...

I'm so glad you loved this one! I hope to read sometime this year as I'm making my way through the 20 Under 40.

Amanda said...

I'm so glad to hear another person sing this book's praises. I'm still a little scared of it, but I really think I ought to read it.

Michelle (my books. my life.) said...

I've had this forever and I haven't read it yet. I loved Everything is Illuminated. And I think JSF has a new book coming out this year so I should get to this one first.

Michelle (Red Headed Book Child) said...

It's a good thing you read it first then, I would think. That way you have the lovely memories and feelings it gave you before Hollywood could screw it up!
Your enthusiasm definitely makes me want to read it more. I've never had it on my list but knew the author from working with books.
Thanks for the passionate review. !

Kari said...

I've read a bunch of reviews of this book by fans, but I'm particularly struck by your reasoning of WHY you liked it. My boyfriend, on the other hand, HATES Foer and hated this book. You actually address some of the issues he had with it, but they didn't seem to bother you (you can read his comments on it here: http://www.fiveboroughbooks.com/2009/06/its-all-facade.html).

With such conflicting opinions, I'm almost intrigued enough to read it, but I'm not sure because I absolutely HATE the gimmicky stuff Foer is famous for!

joemmama said...

I have had this on my list forever. I guess I have to run and get it now! Thanks for the review!!

heatherlo said...

I absolutely love this book. I'm so happy to hear you felt the same!

Aidan Donnelley Rowley said...

I can't wait to read this one. It sounds so whimsical and wonderful and since it deals with some of the same subject matter as my book LAY does (loss of a parent on 9/11), I am just plain curious... Thanks so much for this thoughtful review. Am thrilled to have found my way here to your fantastic blog!

Jennifer said...

I really enjoy Foer's writing. I have this downloaded on my iPad already. Can't wait to read it. It sounds absolutely wonderful.

Amy said...

I LOVED LOVED LOVED this book - one of the best ever. I also loved his book "Everything is Illuminated" - hilarious and incredibly moving. I can't decide which one I like better, but I do love them both. He's a fantastic writer.

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