Angelique's Reviews > Everything Is Illuminated

Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
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's review
Mar 20, 2009

it was ok
bookshelves: books-read-in-2009
Read in March, 2009

** spoiler alert ** I read Everything is Illuminated over the last few weeks and I really don’t know what to make of it. I wanted to say I hated it, as I feel nothing really happens, but that isn’t necessarily a prerequisite for making a good book.

I loved it to begin with because of the hilariously bad English, I thought I would fall in love with it. But as soon as the history of the Jewish town (schetl) started, I quickly lost interest as I found the language to be jarring, but I stuck with it, as I always do to see if it picks up.

Basically the climax of the book is that the holocaust happens, and that the characters are interlinked. As far as everything being illuminate, nothing is. I don’t know what the author (Jonathan Safran Foer) was trying to achieve, but I found it to be an intellectual cop out – as there is a lot of mystery surrounding the other characters and he could have delivered more.

It didn’t gel as an entire novel, but felt like an attempt to be creative and different by telling a story by letters, and two separate novels. I’m not sure I ‘got it’, but I don’t think there was really anything to get. A character goes in search of his grandmother who was saved from the Nazis, finds another survivor who happens to be his tour guide, finds out the town was destroyed and the Nazis are horrible. The end. Right.

I have to say there are some beautifully written passages that moved me to tears. I also liked the caricature of a Ukrainian Jewish village, but on the whole, I wish I wouldn’t have finished it and generally thought it was bad and can’t see how anyone would like it.
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