Thursday, July 12, 2012

Book Review: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

The average person falls asleep in seven minutes, but I couldn't sleep, not after hours, and it made my boots lighter to be around his things, and to touch stuff that he had touched, and to make the hangers hang a little straighter, even though I knew it didn't matter.
-from Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer


Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer is a novel that artfully weaves together three narratives about loss: a man who loses his first love in the bombing of Dresden in World War II and is subsequently unable to speak, a woman whose husband walks out on her out of grief when she becomes pregnant, and Oskar Schell, a 9-year old genius whose father died in the September 11 attacks. Oskar discovers a key in his late father's closet and vows to find the corresponding lock as a way of handling his overwhelming grief. Oskar's journey introduces him to many colorful characters and stories that ultimately bring the three narratives together as the three work through their grief and learn to move forward with their lives. 

You cannot protect yourself from sadness 
without protecting yourself from happiness. 

I'll be honest, this book reminded me of how long I've been out of school and how mindless my reading choices have been lately! When I began reading Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, I really enjoyed Oskar's voice and found the prose of the novel very beautiful, but I wasn't intrigued enough by the story and characters to want to devour this book. In fact, once the other narratives began I almost got bored because the three stories seemed so disjointed. However, I made the decision to finish this book (because I want to see the movie, not gonna lie) and I'm very glad that I did. Without spoiling anything, there comes a point where you see how wonderfully the three narratives begin blending together and that is the moment where I really cared enough about the characters to happily finish the book. Unfortunately for many readers this comes long after they've given up; but I assure you, if you start this book it is worth finishing.

My favorite part of this book was the prose; Foer delivers a story that could not make as great of an impact if it didn't have the words he has used the way he has used them. Foer captures the many layers and experiences of grief and makes you feel them wholeheartedly. Personally, I have been fortunate that I have never really lost anyone close to me; but this book made me feel like I had (I cried a lot reading it!). The voice of Oskar Schell will warm your heart and break it in the same sentence because it's so believably that of a grieving 9-year old boy trying to make sense of his loss.

I wanted to tell her she shouldn't be playing Scrabble yet. 
Or looking in the mirror. Or turning the stereo any louder 
than what you needed just to hear it. It wasn't fair to Dad,
and it wasn't fair to me. But I buried it all inside me

Even though it became an act of perseverance at times, I'm glad I finished this book because it delivered in the end. I look forward to reading more of Foer's novels soon and I can't wait to watch the film adaptation!

Bottom Line: Read this if you're looking for a book that will challenge you, both mentally and emotionally. This may also be a good book to read if you're dealing with working through your grief (although I don't know from personal experience). // 4.5/5 stars

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