Book Review: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

by Margo on April 4, 2012

I’m always cautious about reading books that were later turned into movies. In this case, though, I purchased the kindle version before the movie was out. I’m not even entirely sure why; it’s not the sort of book that I would normally grab. But, it was on sale, and I can never resist a bargain.

I started reading Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (by Jonathon Safron Foer) a month ago. I forgot about the movie. All I knew was that the title sounded familiar, and so I started reading.

The novel follows the adventures of Oskar, a young boy (11 years old) living in New York City. His father died in the towers on 9/11, leaving him and his mom (and his grandmother who lives across the street) to rebuild their lives post-tragedy. ┬áMost of the book is written from Oskar’s point of view. It reads a bit like you’d expect the thoughts of an eleven-year-old boy to read. I give a lot of credit to an author that can write from a child’s POV and do a good job at it.

Oskar is a little boy with a lot of secrets. One of his biggest takes the form of a black key, hidden in a vase in his father’s closet. The key is inside an envelope with only one word on it: Black. Convinced that this key opens something that was important to his father, Oskar starts off on a quest across the city, tracking down everyone with the last name of Black. This sets the framework of the novel, but other stories are woven in. The overall tapestry tells a beautiful tale, not about death and loss, but of hope and learning to let go of a past you can’t change.

I still haven’t seen the movie. I want to, eventually. The didn’t get great reviews, but I wouldn’t mind renting it just to see how it turned out.

Writing about 9/11 is a gutsy move. People claimed that the author was cashing in on sensationalism and sentiment to sell a book. I don’t agree. I think he told a story that had to be told. Life continued after the tragedy, and this story is a brilliant look at how good things can sometimes come from the very worst circumstances.

My Rating: 9/10 ★★★★★★★★★☆ 


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