Amy Reads Books

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close - Jonathan Safran Foer I don't think I've read a book this moving in quite some time. I had put off reading Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close after being disappointed with Super Sad True Love Story which I also had high expectations for. However, this novel met and pretty much surpassed my expectations.It tells the story of Oskar Schell, a nine-year old boy whose father died in 9/11. A couple of years later he has found a mysterious key in his father's wardrobe with the single word 'Black' on it. He therefore decides to embark on a mission to discover what lock the door opens; crossing New York and meeting numerous different people. At the same time, the novel flicks back in time in alternate chapters revealing the mystery of Oskar's grandfather and the horrifying events of the allied Dresden bombing in the Second World War.I loved this book, but I'll try and keep my gushing short. Firstly, Safran Foer manages to create a really believable precocious young child voice for Oskar's narrative, making good use of his naivete and innocence which easily draws out revelations from the people he meets. Plus, he can go on for full paragraphs where his imagination goes on a bit too long-and then gets back into the story with a casual 'Anyway'. I loved and hated Oskar at the same time; he's an incredibly well-drawn character.I really loved the structure of the book; set out mostly like Oskar's own journal including his own photos which was so pleasantly different and really added to the understanding of the story; as well as making it really visually interesting in addition to the story.Finally, of course, the plot was brilliantly brought together. Safran Foer doesn't bash you over the head with references to 9/11, from the very first mention of it is done very subtly, even Oskar simply refers to it as 'the worst day'. A lot of the plot hinges around the reveal of the telephone messages left by Oskar's father; something that I found really moving because it is these that I remember the most from 9/11, in addition to the image of the 'falling man', which has become almost iconic when people recall that tragedy. The novel deals with loss in a brilliant way; touching not just on Oskar's reaction to the loss of her father, but also his Mum & Grandmother's reactions and then it goes on to look at loss through other deaths, loss of sense and even loss of language. This final idea is within the secondary story line, which is brilliantly revealed throughout so I don't really want to go into it, but the idea of losing language and what is 'Something' and what is 'Nothing' is really clever.This novel made me laugh out loud and then really cry (especially near the end) pretty much within pages of each other. I really, really recommend it.