Annalisa's Reviews > Everything Is Illuminated

Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
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's review
Apr 22, 2008

liked it
bookshelves: religion-philosophy, didn-t-finish, book-club

It's not that it's a bad book, but I just couldn't care. I had to force myself to pick it up and push myself through pages that were mediocre. Halfway through I asked myself why I kept trying. Because the book was forced. I liked the idea of the letters written in poor English, but they didn't have to nuances of another language. They carried the invariable tone of someone who had written something intelligible in English, full of its cliches and colloquialisms, and then systematically tweaked with a thesaurus until the meaning wasn't pure. It could have been funny, but it was awkward. I liked the translator and his quirky family, but his not-quite-authentic letters bothered me.

Also, Jonathan's interpretation of what he thought his many-greats grandmother must have been like: tragically sad yet beautiful and eccentric in her intelligence was unbelievable. It's what Jonathan would have wanted to think and be like, not what an actual person over a hundred years ago would have been like. Nor was anybody from that town authentic. They were all little bits of Jonathan broken up in little pieces a little too homogeneous of his own quirkiness so I wasn't believing anything about their story. I love his quirkiness and his humor, but too much of it felt forced to me.

I'm sure the story eventual drew tragic and beautiful and worth it and maybe I wasted the poor part of the book never to be rewarded with the good, but if it hasn't drawn me in by now, I give up. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is leaps and bounds better than this book. This was just a warmup.
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Reading Progress

April 22, 2008 – Shelved
January 20, 2009 –
page 50
11.74% "Not liking it."
Started Reading
February 1, 2009 – Finished Reading
July 18, 2009 – Shelved as: religion-philosophy
December 11, 2013 – Shelved as: book-club

Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Megan RFA This doesn't happen often, but in this case the movie is sooooo much better. Takes all the best parts of the book and leaves out the clutter.

Annalisa I may just have to do that because I am struggling with this one.

Megan RFA The movie warmed my heart. The book just annoyed me - I barely finished it.

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