REVIEW: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars, Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Pages: 368, Level: Intermediate

Book Description from Barnes & Noble:

Nine-year-old Oskar Schell has embarked on an urgent, secret mission that will take him through the five boroughs of New York. His goal is to find the lock that matches a mysterious key that belonged to his father, who died in the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11. This seemingly impossible task will bring Oskar into contact with survivors of all sorts on an exhilarating, affecting, often hilarious, and ultimately healing journey.

This is a phenomenal book.

I thought there were parts that maybe I should cry, but instead I felt a cold, steel wall go up to prevent me from crying, to protect me. The profound impact it had on me was no less because of it. If I was not at my computer to type out quotes, I tore pieces of an envelope apart to mark the pages that contained the quotes I wanted to write down. I re-read the quotes.

Even though I know it to be true, I am constantly amazed at how a book can change my outlook on life, or even change my life. It amazes me how an author can put words together in such a way to make a life lasting effect on someone’s life. I want to think that the author just got lucky because no person could possibly have the skill to put words together like that intentionally.

This book will bombard you with so many feelings that you won’t know what to do with them. That’s why it seems so particularly fitting that the author included the quote, “…there are so many times when you know you’re feeling a lot of something, but you don’t know what the something is…” Was that intentional? Did he create a book that would make you feel that way and then hide the perfect quote in his book like a needle in a haystack? Was he just lucky? Does it matter?

The characters are all so quirky and you end up loving every single quirky habit. I fell in love with the man who doesn’t speak. I want to sit in Mr. Black’s home and listen to his stories all day long. I wanted to cry when I found out about the Blacks’ museums because of all the love.

This is a phenomenal book.

Style

There are a lot of pictures in the book. There are also a lot of excerpts from letters, different spacing and formatting and sometimes the punctuation changes. There is a part where things are underlined or circled. I was tempted to find a pattern in all that but I was afraid it would take away from the flow of the book so I ignored it.

The stories are told from different viewpoints and they go back and forth in time. It took me a little while to figure out how all the characters are related to each other. While they are meant to emphasize, I understand how all these things can make the book a little difficult to read at times, but the story was so mesmerizing that I managed to get through the book without any of these things bothering me.

Reviewed by Christina

Quotes

“Just because you’re an atheist, that doesn’t mean you wouldn’t love for things to have reasons for why they are.” p13

“You’re sure?” “Pretty sure.” “Are you more or less than seventy-five-percent sure?” “More.” “Ninety-nine percent?” “Less.” “Ninety percent?” “About that.” “That’s a lot of percent.” p51

“In the end, everyone loses everyone. There was no invention to get around that…”

“…there are so many times when you know you’re feeling a lot of something, but you don’t know what the something is… And that confusion changes your mood, it becomes your mood, and you become a confused, gray person.”

“…you can’t love anything more than something you miss.”

“As long as I am thinking, I am alive…”

“..one hundred years of joy can be erased in one second…”

“Life is scarier than death.”

“I wanted to stand up and shout, That beautiful person is mine!”

“When I looked at you, my life made sense. Even the bad things made sense. They were necessary to make you possible.”

“…it broke my heart into more pieces than my heart was made of…”

“Maybe it’s true that you can use up all of your tears.”

“We assumed there would be other nights.”

“…sometimes you have to do something bad to do something good.”

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