Beth F.'s Reviews > Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
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's review
Oct 06, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: 9-11-reference, 2008, general-fiction

I’m a pussy and won’t actually ride a rollercoaster (I hate amusement park rides) but reading this book was what I’d imagine riding a rollercoaster in the dark would be like. You never knew when it was going to go up, drop down, go upside down, stop on a dime, speed up, etc. etc. so every time you’d turn the page, it was an emotional surprise.

The main character and primary narrator of the book is a nine-year-old boy named Oskar who is precocious and I put that in italics because that’s the description that everybody and their dog uses to describe Oskar. I tried to think of another way to describe him so I could be unique, but couldn’t. So I’m just like everybody else when I say that Oskar is precocious. Oskar is also…well, to be perfectly honest, he’s a little weird. He speaks French. He makes jewelry. He plays the tambourine. He's a vegan but makes an exception for dehydrated ice cream. He’s obsessed with Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History in Time (uh-huh, okay). He says shiitake and VJ instead of shit and vagina. And while he has the ability to befriend any adult he comes into contact with, he is teased at school and doesn’t get along with most of the other kids. Poor kid.

Oskar’s father was killed on 9/11/01 because he was in the World Trade Center for a business meeting that morning. Oskar and his father had a very special relationship and his father was the parent Oskar felt the closest too. His father recognized that Oskar was an unusually bright child and gave him clues for things that Oskar was supposed to solve. Oskar and his father had been involved in one such mystery when his father was killed and Oskar is upset that he’ll never discover what it was his father wanted him to know. And so missing his father and feeling panicky and insecure about the terrorist attacks becomes Oskar’s guiding mission in life. Almost everything he says and/or does can be tied back to that morning and what happened.

Toward the beginning of the novel, Oskar discovers a mysterious key with his father’s belongings. His father had written the word “Black” in red pen on the envelope and since it doesn’t belong to any of the locks in the apartment he shares with his mother, Oskar realizes the key was to be the final mystery his father left for him to solve. And so he sets out to solve this mystery and meets many people on his self-imposed journey.

Beyond that, the book is a bit difficult to explain. It doesn’t move in a linear fashion and jumps back and forth between Oskar’s attempt to solve the mystery of the Black key, his grandparents memories of the bombing attacks of Dresden, Germany when they were young people, their courtship, the PTSD his grandfather suffered after the attacks and his eventual abandonment of his family as a result of his emotional problems. If you draw comparisons between Oskar and his grandfather, you can’t help but wonder “what next?” for Oskar.

I enjoyed this book. It made me cry. I laughed. I didn’t want to put it down. But parts of it didn’t exactly live up to the expectations that were set forth in the beginning. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but if I do, I’ll come back and update. In the meantime, I’ll give it 3.75 stars officially but round it up to four.
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Reading Progress

October 6, 2008 – Shelved
November 13, 2008 – Shelved as: 9-11-reference
November 13, 2008 – Shelved as: 2008
November 14, 2008 –
page 1
November 14, 2008 –
page 74
November 15, 2008 –
page 104
November 16, 2008 –
page 174
Started Reading
November 17, 2008 –
page 267
November 17, 2008 – Finished Reading
February 8, 2011 – Shelved as: general-fiction

Comments (showing 1-13 of 13) (13 new)

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message 1: by Victoria (new)

Victoria i don't think that i would beable to read this bbok.

Beth F. That's too bad, it was good.

message 3: by Victoria (new)

Victoria many be i will read it after i'm done with all my books.

Sarah I do want to read this...but I'm a bit worn out on the 9/11 books.

Though I do like the sound of Oskar. And I LOVE dehydrated ice cream.

Beth F. It is one of the better ones I've read. Maybe take a break and read it in a few months?

Sarah Yeah, probably. I'm trying to decide what I'm going to read next month. Something not too horribly depressing, which is nearly every book on our list.

Beth F. Merry Christmas! How about you read all these books about death, pestilence and depravity!

Actually, one of the books I'm sending you is a sappy and heart-warming shortie (160 pages) that I read last year. I didn't want to like it, but I did.

I cried.

Sarah Yay! I like sappy Christmas stories.

Have you read this one? It's not TOO sappy. I loved it when I was younger.

Beth F. I never read the book but I've seen the movie about a million times. It was one of mine and Katie's favorites when we were kids--I need to read the book!

message 10: by Eva (new) - added it

Eva Leger I liked this review a lot Beth- I've been going back and forth about whether I wanted to read this or not and your review sealed the deal. LOL

message 11: by Andrea (new) - added it

Andrea What kind of respectable woman calls herself a pussy?

message 12: by Eva (new) - added it

Eva Leger The kind who is honest and not scared of the word 'pussy'. Let me guess, 'cunt' is the "most horrible word" you've ever heard right?

Beth F. I’m not afraid to call a pussy when I see one but if it makes you feel better about yourself you can pretend I called myself a wimp instead.

Just kidding, pussy power!

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