Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close probably has to be one of the most difficult books I have ever had to read. Well, I didn't have to read it--I wanted to.
I felt like I really needed to read this book due to its subject matter. It's something most everyone in this day and age has to come to terms with eventually: 9/11.
This book wasn't difficult to read because of the writing, or because of the fact that it was told through the eyes of a young boy (who, I'm almost certain, has a form of Asperger Syndrome). This novel was most certainly difficult to read because it took place during and right after a world tragedy (because face it, this day affected everyone, not just Americans), told by someone who was directly affected by the horror of that day.
This book tells the story of Oskar Schell.
At the very beginning of our story, Oskar finds a mysterious key at the bottom of a broken vase. We don't know what it goes to, what it unlocks, or who has owned it. All Oskar knows is that it was found in his late father's closet.
Oskar becomes obsessed with this key. Perhaps in some way, if he were to find what it goes to, he could be at peace with his father's death. Or perhaps he will find out whatever happened to The Sixth Borough of New York City. Or why this person named "Black" was obviously important enough to have their name on the envelope containing the key.
So many questions need to be answered, and if there's one person who can solve these mysteries, it's Oskar.
Out of all of the main characters I have read about in books, and all of the perspectives I have read, I would have to say that none come close to being as oddly extraordinary as Oskar. He cracks open the face of ordinary life, and gives us all (his readers) a peek at the wonders of the world that only he can see.
Johnathan Safran Foer has given the world a new perspective on life. There are so many unique children out there who are misunderstood, just because their brains work differently than ours, and Mr Foer gives us a look into their reality. When you read Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, you will have a whole new outlook on the world. This book just goes to show that everyone's brains work differently. And in some cases, the people with brains who may seem a bit odd really have an extraordinary view of the world that you will only get a glimpse of through books like these. Incredible.
This book is amazing. I fell in love with Oskar immediately, as soon as I opened my book to page one, and my love for this book only grew as his quest to find the lock to the mysterious key commenced.
That being said, I also did my share of crying. Between the book and the movie, I think I have cried enough tears to fill a large swimming pool.
Of course when you read about the subject matter of this book, you will be hesitant. "Do I really want to read about the tragedy of 9/11? Is it too much?" And the answer to that is simple.
No, you probably don't want to read about the horrors of that day, and you especially don't want to read about a little boy whose father passed in the towers.
But you need to. Everyone who was alive during that time, or is growing up in a world where horrible things like this happen, needs to read this book. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close teaches us that horrible things happen in the world, but so do remarkable things.
Sad things happen in the world. Ironic things happen. But most of all, beautiful things happen in the world and they need to be shared and heard.
Johnathan Safran Foer has definitely accomplished writing a spectacularly emotional and moving piece.