Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
by Jonathan Safran Foer
Meet Oskar Schell, an inventor, Francophile, tambourine player, Shakespearean actor, jeweler, pacifist, correspondent with Stephen Hawking and Ringo Starr. He is nine years old. And he is on an urgent, secret search through the five boroughs of New York. His mission is to find the lock that fits a mysterious key belonging to his father, who died in the World Trade Center on 9/11.
An inspired innocent, Oskar is alternately endearing, exasperating, and hilarious as he careens from Central Park to Coney Island to Harlem on his search. Along the way he is always dreaming up inventions to keep those he loves safe from harm. What about a birdseed shirt to let you fly away? What if you could actually hear everyone’s heartbeat? His goal is hopeful, but the past speaks a loud warning in stories of those who’ve lost loved ones before.
As Oskar roams New York, he encounters a motley assortment of humanity who are all survivors in their own way. He befriends a 103-year-old war reporter, a tour guide who never leaves the Empire State Building, and lovers enraptured or scorned.
Ultimately, Oskar ends his journey where it began, at his father’s grave. But now he is accompanied by the silent stranger who has been renting the spare room of his grandmother’s apartment. They are there to dig up his father’s empty coffin.
My son was checking my Kindle book collection a few nights ago when he noticed this book cover. He asked, “What’s up with his hands, Mom?” When I finally saw what he was referring to, I had this sudden urge to read it again. I read this 2 years ago after watching the movie, and the pain it brought still lingered on my mind.
Oskar Schell brought me a lot of tears. His father died during the Sept 11 Twin Towers attack. Oskar and his search for Black after finding the key his father left led him to places that changed his life. This was quite a heart-breaking read, I felt my insides shattered reading those accounts from the people that his father had the chance to know before he died.
I liked most the parts where Oscar often cried and said I Love You. To me, that was quite a rollercoaster of emotions.
Jonathan Foer reminded me again of 9/11 attacks and it was eerie. The events that happened before, during and after that date swirled in my mind. Not many of you know that during that time, I was still working in an American company and I had been friends with most of our customers/members. I had a few NY clients who corresponded with me through e-mail and Instant Messenger. Suddenly, I heard nothing from one of them, her user-screen name was Katie. That’s when I learned that Katie died in the 9/11 bombing. It was so surreal. This was extremely moving and incredibly emotional story.
Jonathan Safran Foer (born 1977) is an American writer best known for his 2002 novel Everything Is Illuminated. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife, the novelist Nicole Krauss, and their son, Sasha.