Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

October 2, 2009
By , Plano, TX
Not long after the publication of his brilliant and widely acclaimed first novel, Everything Is Illuminated which won several literary prizes, including the National Jewish Book Award and The Guardian First Book Award, and has been published in twenty-four countries. Jonathan Safran Foer publishes a more astounding and brilliant novel called Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. A story that circles around a very funny and very sad story of nine year old Oskar Schell and the grief of his father, a victim of the September 11 disaster when the World Trade Center collapsed. Foer was born in 1977, one of three sons in a Jewish family who started taking writing seriously after meeting author Joyce Carol Oates. He is currently married to another writer, Nichole Krauss; they have two children and live in Brooklyn, New York.

Foer’s style of writing for Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is both unique and interesting; it was the author’s humorous and distinct voice that kept me from putting the book down, the way the diction is put into the exact spot where it fits that gives me a sense of the place where the novel is set. The voice of the author/narrator is definitely unusual from other books, a nine year old kid who is noticeably more mature and intelligent than most kids his age who has gone through a terrible ordeal. Oskar Schell has an imaginative mind, always inventing things in his head for various situations, it is so clear to understand and feel what Oskar goes through while seeing him growing up during the course of the novel. Yet another diverse style of Foer is the changing of the narrator many times between Oskar and his grandparents, both telling two different stories that end up fitting together like a puzzle.

Foer places the setting of the novel mostly all in New York City where Oskar roams the streets in search of the answer behind the death of his father, the setting also switches to the late 1940’s where the story of Oskar’s grandparents are told. Throughout the novel, the author vividly describes many places that Oskar visits or passes by, he also places several images in the novel to show what Oskar is seeing or thinking. They help the reader to experience the book from Oskar’s point of view which really assists the reader when trying to understand all of the characters in the novel. Foer does place some traits and characteristics in his characters that make them seem believable yet also quite unrealistic, personally, the characters are what make the book interesting, each person has a unique aura regarding how they act and speak.

The plot of the summary is somewhat of a mystery that shoots many questions in the reader’s mind, it starts when Oskar finds a mysterious key sealed in an envelope labeled “Black”, this instigates Oskar’s journey throughout New York and how "I decided I would meet every person in New York with the last name Black. Even if it was relatively insignificant, it was something, and I needed to do something, like sharks, who die if they don't swim, which I know about." Each encounter between Oskar and a “Black” are exciting and unusual and with each step, Oskar gets closer to finding the answer. During Oskar’s voyage in New York and the time he spends at home, he uncovers a secret about his mother, whom he thinks has gotten over the death of his father too quickly. We also see the powerful connection that his grandparents have as they tell their story of the past and how it relates to the present.

Overall, I would recommend this book to all kinds of readers because it introduces a way of writing that is really different and is definitely a worthy read. The author use of images and sentence structure, not to mention an intriguing plot, really puts this book at the top of the list to read.

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