Megan's Reviews > Everything Is Illuminated

Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
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's review
Aug 22, 2011

really liked it

I read Everything is Illuminated after devouring one of Foer's other novels, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. It was still excellent, and I'm not typically a reader of fiction, so for me to finish a novel is extraordinary.

The story of Jonathan's research with Alexander and his grandfather (and their dog) did not interest me as much as the tales of Safran and Foer's other ancestors. I thought I would relate to that story in a strong way because of my life in academia, but generally I found it more difficult to follow than the other stories. I also didn't feel like this storyline had any real ending. Perhaps I missed something.

The change in narrators made the novel a little choppy at times. In Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, the narrator changed but it seemed smoother. Here, perhaps because of Alexander and Jonathan's dramatically different diction and syntax, I felt like I had to reorient myself every time Alexander started up again. It did get easier as the book went on, especially once I was reading more frequently, but it is still something to note.

A strange side note: because Alexander constantly referred to Sammy Davis, Junior Junior as a bitch, I pictured her as a fearsome mongrel, but I'm pretty sure that has everything to do with his choice of words.

The Holocaust aspect of the book was truly terrifying, as any text about that topic should be. When any text brings up the topic, I continue on with a sense of dread, because seldom is it that the topic comes up without something truly tragic occurring. Anytime I see Cabaret, I spend most of my time fearing for the Jewish fruitstand owner. A notable exception to this phenomenon is the film Harold and Maude, which subtly brings the topic up through her tattoo, but it is never mentioned again. It simply provides her with a very rich backstory.

All things considered, I really enjoyed this book, and I look forward to reading more of Foer's work, as well as seeing the two films based on the two novels I have read.

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Reading Progress

August 22, 2011 – Shelved
September 17, 2011 – Started Reading
December 13, 2011 –
page 85
January 3, 2012 –
page 213
January 5, 2012 – Finished Reading

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