Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Extremely Close and Incredibly Loud - Foer

Most everyone has heard by now that Jonathan Safran Foer's Extremely Close and Incredibly Loud is the story of a boy dealing with the grief of losing his father in the horrific events of September 11, 2001.  But it is more that, it is the story of tragedy passed down through generations and of learning how to turn tragedy into an opportunity to keep loved ones alive in your hearts and memories.

After finding a key and envelop with a name written on it in his father's closet Oskar, a nine-year old child who is struggling to understand his father's death, starts a quest to figure out what the key goes to and why his father left if for him to find (his father supposedly often created such games and challenges for him). Oskar travels every weekend, using the New York City phone book, in the hopes of finding the answers that will make sense of his tragedy.  He meets a short cast of characters, who ultimately help him discover that sometimes there is no reason that things happen, they just do.

Interspersed with his story is that of his paternal grandfather and grandmother.  Through their stories we learn that Oskar's grandmother, with whom he is very close, and his grandfather, who he has never met, found each other years ago in the wake of another war. I don't want to give too much away, but this part of the story - though not as readable and fun as Oskar's (the author utilizes picture, illustrations, and even red underling to make his point) - is even richer and more deep.  

Ultimately, the two stories converge with Oskar and his grandfather taking the opportunity to utilize all possible tools at that disposal to deal with the loss of a father/son, building a relationship in the process and ultimately keeping their loved one close, while having to let go.

This book was a bit difficult to follow, with the skips between the three character's stories (especially given that no explanation is offered of such), however it's worth the effort. I enjoyed the story very much and think that others will too, if they take their time with the book.

3/5- Good. Read it, have a good time and move on. Or not.

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