Natalie E. Ramm's Reviews > Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
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Jul 10, 12

Read from May 10 to 16, 2012

I just finished this book on the bus this morning. It is incredible!

The story is told through a 9-year-old boy’s point of view, and is interspersed with letters from his grandma and grandpa. Oskar Schnell lost his father on September 11, 2001 when the towers went down. It’s over a year later when he finds a clue from his dad in the form of a key. Oskar sets out on a mission to discover what the key could unlock, hoping that he’ll discover something about his dad that will help him understand his death. Along the way he runs into many odd characters and makes a few friends.

The letters from Oskar’s grandma are addressed to him and tell him about her life growing up in Dresden, the bombings, losing her family, marrying Oskar’s grandpa in America. Oskar’s grandpa doesn’t speak. He and Oskar’s grandma grew up together in Dresden. Grandpa was in love with grandma’s sister, Anna. When Anna died during the bombing, he lost his will and ability to live. He and grandma married, but were never in love. When she got pregnant, grandpa left because he was too scared to raise a son. Everyday he writes a letter to his son but doesn’t send any of them. When Oskar’s father dies, his grandpa returns.

Oskar is a great character! He’s very smart and maybe slightly autistic? He is a math wizard and has vast knowledge of science, but he can’t cope with his feelings about his dad’s death and he can’t relate to children his own age. He has violent outbursts, which usually only happen in his head. He is sympathetic because he’s just a lost little kid who loves his dad and can’t figure out how to deal with life without him. But he’s also an impossible character in the way he treats his mom.

It takes a phenomenal writer to write from a child’s perspective convincingly. I might have a soft spot for books written from a child’s POV, but this one is probably the best I’ve ever read. Why am I so bad at writing about books I really love?! Anyway…

Extremely heartbreaking and incredibly written, Extremely Loud is about tragedy, grief, regret, and hope. It is a captivating story that juxtaposes the bombing in Dresden in the 1940s with the September 11 attacks. It compels us to ask the question why do we inflict so much pain on others? Is life now no different from life 60 years ago, and is life now no different from life 60 years from now?

If you’re reading this, grab a tissue. Seriously. It will give you some very heavy boots.
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05/11/2012 page 50
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