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Here I Am

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  24,335 ratings  ·  2,974 reviews
A monumental new novel from the bestselling author of Everything Is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

In the book of Genesis, when God calls out, “Abraham!” to order him to sacrifice his son Isaac, Abraham responds, “Here I am.” Later, when Isaac calls out, “My father!” to ask him why there is no animal to slaughter, Abraham responds, “Here I am.”

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Hardcover, 592 pages
Published September 6th 2016 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Amy .F. I hated it from the beginning and only finished it out of stubbornness/misplaced loyalty (I'd loved EII & ELAIC way back when). If it's torturing you,…moreI hated it from the beginning and only finished it out of stubbornness/misplaced loyalty (I'd loved EII & ELAIC way back when). If it's torturing you, it won't torture you less in 200 pages. Jump ship!(less)
Nastya Khyzhniak Even if you don't like, I don't think that it's fair to call someone work "Absolute crap". Yes, everybody's entitled to their opinion, but do we have …moreEven if you don't like, I don't think that it's fair to call someone work "Absolute crap". Yes, everybody's entitled to their opinion, but do we have to be less respectful because of it?(less)

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Average rating 3.64  · 
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 ·  24,335 ratings  ·  2,974 reviews

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Elyse  Walters
"Here I Am", is one of those type of books that is likely to receive every possible rating......depending on the readers perspective. Readers can easily justify their options, positive or negative.

Rather than get tangled with debates about this novel--controversy chit chat....
These are 'my' suggestions ---[take them or leave them]---if on the fence about reading this book.

If not clear:
Good reasons 'not' to read this novel:
......unrefined and vulgar dialogue characters are of
Paul Bryant
Apr 23, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels, abandoned
If you piled up all the novels which make excruciating forensic microscopic sorrowful comedy out of failing marriages you could make a new Watts Tower out of them, there are so many, and somebody should really do that as an ART STATEMENT, it’s like the default subject of the non-genre novel, and all the sharp witty short story writers do it too, and a lot of them are really good at it, I could give you a list of all these stories and novels about horrible relationships between men and women, it’ ...more
Violet wells
Whatever happened to editors? I once read a biography of Max Perkins, editor to Fitzgerald, Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe, among others. The deal back then seemed to be that a manuscript arriving at the offices was 70% done. Perkins then gave his 10% and the final 20% was a collaboration of author and editor. Nowadays it often seems editors do little more than hunt out typos. If Foer had had a Max Perkins – essentially to curb his excesses, something Perkins did very well with Tom Wolfe – this coul ...more
Helene Jeppesen
Feb 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was my first read by Jonathan Safran Foer and it was BEAUTIFUL! It wasn't the writing - which a lot of people seem to praise him for - that affected me the most. Actually, it's hard to put a finger on what exactly it was. But several times during my reading of this novel I almost teared up because it affected me emotionally in a way that no other book has for a long time.
"Here I Am" combines a frustrating and hard every-day family life with religion. It deals with Jacob in America and Jews
(2.5) Is it a simple account of the implosion of two Washington, D.C. fortysomethings’ marriage? Or is it a sweeping epic of Judaism from the biblical patriarchs to imagined all-out Middle Eastern warfare? Can it succeed in being both? I didn’t really think so. If this was simply a family novel of the Jonathan Franzen–Jami Attenberg–Jonathan Tropper variety about Jacob and Julia Bloch – their three precocious sons, their adulterous urges, their amusing ancestors – I might have liked it better. T ...more
Andrew Smith
Mar 01, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: not-finished
Let me be clear, I only award one star to books I fail to finish. I failed to finish this book. In fact, I’d barely started it – I was probably no more than an hour into this chunky seventeen-hour audio version. And I don’t think I’ve ever given up any book that early.

The problems for me were:

1. I didn’t understand much of it
2. I didn’t like the bits I did understand

I’ve subsequently tried to read a couple reviews of the book, published in newspapers I respect, to see what I am missing out on. B
my hobbies include: calling authors my favorite and then not actually reading their books
Chelsea Humphrey
Dec 01, 2016 marked it as dnf-lost-interest  ·  review of another edition
DNF. Just wasn't for me. ...more
Jun 25, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a second book by this author I've read. I liked it more than Everything is Illuminated, but I still dislike his narrating style. In this story he rises interesting and important topics of family and legacy, history and identity, marriage and divorce. But the way these deep thoughts interwind with descriptions of dog's shit and masturbation (for a couple of pages!) is just annoying and confusing. ...more
Jun 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: xx2017-completed
“Sometimes Jacob convinced himself it was better with the swearing and brief flashes of nudity removed, that they were there only because the freedom to do such things had to be justified by exercising it.” This referenced a TV show that Jacob was a writer for, and my wish is that Jacob could have told the author not to exercise that freedom so that people could get past the first few chapters of this book without giving up.

My experience of reading this book got off to a rocky start, but to be f
Jul 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Since the moment I heard that the god of contemporary authors, Jonathan Safran Foer, was going to be releasing a new novel, the barely-concealed bookworm inside me has been almost continually squealing with excitement. Whilst markedly different to the original information – Escape from Children’s Hospital was supposed to be released in 2015 – his newest novel, Here I Am, is well worth the wait.

The novel focuses upon a family living in Washington DC. Jacob and Julia Bloch have been married for si
Dec 23, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc, owned
Full review to come.
Mar 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: shiksas like me
Shelves: usa
It isn't what it's talking about that makes a book Jewish - it's that the book won't shut up. (Philip Roth)

Mind you, talking about bar mitzvahs and rituals and Holocaust and eruv and Zionism and homeland and Torah and kosher food and Israel and Hebrew and seder does kind of give the game away.
Also: it doesn't shut up.

I come away exhausted: the high octane disputatious posturing, the quick-fire wordplay and cross-talk, the swift montage of tweets and text messages and interior monologue and exter
Emily May
Sep 20, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, contemporary, 2016
2 1/2 stars. Foer explores what it means to be a Jew in this epic, messy monster of a book. He starts with a Franzen-style look at the American family - a spiraling web of relationships and conflicts that on its own would have still resulted in a dense, challenging work, but probably one significantly less convoluted and more satisfying.

The protagonist is Jacob - a modern day version of the biblical man by the same name. Much of his conflict - internal and external - is either about family or fa
Jul 20, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: netgalley
'Here I Am' by Jonathan Safran Foer

2.5 stars/ 5 out of 10

I was very impressed by "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" by Jonathan Safran Foer, so was interested to read his latest work, "Here I Am".

I found the story disjointed to begin with, but after about 50 pages I settled into its pattern. I thought the way that Julia and Jacob's relationship changed over time was developed in an interesting way. It kept me eager to find out more about them and their family. I found the sections relating t
Dennis Jacob
Sep 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A book about the slow disintegration of a marriage while constantly meditating on what it means to be Jewish. I spend almost three weeks reading it while working on my Master's Thesis. I found it to be quite beautiful and at times heartbreaking. I'm curious as to what gentile readers think of it. Foer is not very inclusive and I imagine that to someone unfamiliar with Judaism and Jewish culture lots of concepts, words and philosophical discussions will seem foreign and impenetrable. ...more
Roman Clodia
Jul 21, 2016 rated it liked it
A messy, chaotic book that zooms between big ideas and forges massive connections between the personal and political, between the family and the state of Israel. As a marriage falls apart, so does the Middle East when a huge earthquake devastates Israel and allows it to be invaded by a pan-Arab/Muslim alliance.

JSF uses these dual scenarios to explore issues of identity and Jewishness, fractures between Jews and Israelis, and questions of national identity versus common humanity. The whole book
Laura King
May 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
"You only get to keep what you refuse to let go of" ...more
May 03, 2016 rated it liked it
I was the perfect audience for this novel. I'm a huge fan of JSF's fiction, and I had a Jewish upbringing exactly like the one that was the focus of the book. And yet.

Here I Am contains several storylines that were unsuccessfully wound together. We have the imagined destruction of Israel which could have made for a grand and fascinating telling, but it was a more or less an abandoned plot-line. We also have the destruction of a marriage, but there was nothing there we haven't seen before.

Ayelet Waldman
Jul 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Amazing first half. The Israel stuff left me cold.
Not an easy one for my first ever review! This is a long novel with a lot going on. Perhaps a little too much. There were large parts I absolutely loved. The family life of Jewish couple Jacob and Julia Bloch, their three boys and dog was riveting. I can’t recall a novel that depicts the growing tensions between a husband and wife as razor sharp in its insights as this. And Foer is so good at getting the amazing and profound things young children can suddenly come out with. I loved the three boy ...more
Jan 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Foer has written a/the great Jewish American novel. This book is INTENSLY personal and ambitious. It explores the breakdown of a marriage and religious identity for Jewish Americans and Israelis. Where it truly succeeds/transcends is the marriage/relationship/family/kids/pets/parents stuff. It's very easy to feel you are reading an account of Foer and Krauss's marriage ending. But I dislike when critics/readers equate the author with the fiction. And yet... Where it gets a little heavy/self indu ...more
Greg Zimmerman
Sep 12, 2016 rated it liked it
First appeared at

Here I Am, Jonathan Safran Foer's first novel in 11 years — the most anticipated novel of the year for many book nerds, me included — is a massive tome that sort of meanders through a bunch of big, important questions. What does it mean to be a Jewish man in this crazy world? How can any marriage survive the pressures of modern culture? And just what is Israel?

Yeah, that last one throws you for a loop when Foer branches out and goes all
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
Dec 15, 2015 marked it as goldfinch-in-juice
I assume this kind of thing is what folks have in mind when they do the whole *eye roll* "PoMo" *ugh* thing. ...more
Jul 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Never has my overinflation of good books bothered me as much as it does now. This book is deserving of the 5 stars, and if all the others are as well, maybe it deserves more.

I have never been a fan of JSF, and have felt lesser for it. This book gripped me from beginning to end. I began to think in JSF-esque sentences -- my father-in-law called as I was finishing this book, and because i was still thinking (and therefore, talking) like the narrator of this book, I am sure he was more than a littl
So much about the experience of this blew me away. First, I should mention that I was aware for the last three months, that this was a Community Group Read, culminating in an event tonight with the author. Our local Jewish Federation in Boston, known as Combined Jewish Philanthropies, began a program called "Learn On." Their first event for "Read On" was this book, the motto for the event being "One City, One Book, A Million Conversations." There were online chat groups, there were smaller event ...more
David Rubenstein
I wanted to like this book, but I could not get past the stream of raunchy textings. Parts of this book were so humorous, others were very touching. Jacob's three super-precocious sons were just hilarious. Does anybody really talk like that? I just loved Jacob's father; no wishy-washiness there, for sure.

I thought that the book would be right up my alley; after all, it is about a suburban Washington family, growing up in an environment very similar to the one I grew up in. The story mentions ma
Sep 24, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-read
Imagine Franzen and Foer blending their words and worlds together in a literary blender .... This novel would be the result. An epic of American Jewishness and of a world of Wars and a family.

Jacob the family man. The son and the father. The modern time image of the Old Testament namesake living in the modern world and facing real dilemmas.

This book was supposed to be one of the major event of the fall reading catalogue but it sort of felt short due to the vastness and the book going everywher
Wiebke (1book1review)
This is a book about identity and communication. And how both affect the individual and society.

The writing is amazing as usual, although I really have to read it again to see how it lives up to that and what else I will discover and feel.

I think my thoughts are best captured in my video review:
Robert Sheard
Nov 01, 2017 rated it did not like it
I promise I really don’t enjoy writing negative reviews. To be blunt, were I not reading this novel as a judge for The Mako Prize (, I would have DNF’ed it within thirty pages. But because I needed to be fair to it as a judge, I read all 571 painful pages.

I’m not the kind of reader who must identify with–or even like–the main character of a book to appreciate it. I’ve read Lolita, and despite the horror of Humbert Humbert’s pedophilia, I admire the novel as brilliant writin
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Here I Am 11 71 Feb 26, 2020 07:56PM  
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Play Book Tag: Here I Am - by Jonathan Safran Foer - 5 stars! 7 26 Apr 29, 2017 04:13AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Missing page count 3 30 Sep 18, 2016 04:05AM  

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Jonathan Safran Foer is the author of two bestselling, award-winning novels, Everything Is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, and a bestselling work of nonfiction, Eating Animals. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Articles featuring this book

A marriage implodes; an earthquake devastates Israel. Crisis, questioning, and the meaning of home anchor Here I Am, Foer's hugely anticipated...
20 likes · 8 comments
“In sickness and in sickness. That is what I wish for you. Don't seek or expect miracles. There are no miracles. Not anymore. And there are no cures for the hurt that hurts most. There is only the medicine of believing each other's pain, and being present for it.” 81 likes
“It’s easy to be close, but almost impossible to stay close. Think about friends. Think about hobbies. Even ideas. They’re close to us—sometimes so close we think they are part of us—and then, at some point, they aren’t close anymore. They go away. Only one thing can keep something close over time: holding it there. Grappling with it. Wrestling it to the ground, as Jacob did with the angel, and refusing to let go. What we don’t wrestle we let go of. Love isn’t the absence of struggle. Love is struggle.” 67 likes
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