Reader Review by cloggie-downunder
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close is the 2nd novel by Jonathan Safran Foer. The main story is narrated by nine-year-old Oskar Schell whose father, Thomas, died on 9/11. Some years after his Thomas’s death, Oskar finds a key in his father’s closet. His determination to find the lock that the key opens is fuelled by his desire to find out exactly how his father died. One small clue with the key leads him to touch the lives of many people and the idea is the six degrees of separation is brought to mind. Oskar is clever, funny, aware, quirky, somewhat precocious, earnest, thoughtful and very resourceful. As he tries to beat his grief-related insomnia, Oskar invents amazing things in his mind, like a birdseed shirt so birds will save the wearer falling from a great height (like the WTC). Interspersed with Oskar’s narration are replies from famous people to letters Oskar writes them, photographs Oskar takes with the camera that belonged to the grandfather who left 40 years before he was born, and pictures he downloads from the internet. Adding to the intrigue are the thoughts that Oskar’s paternal grandmother sets down in letters to him about her life and unsent letters from the long absent grandfather to his now-dead son. This novel examines how people react to tragedy in their lives, what they do to cope, and what they do to protect those they love from facts they believe will harm them. The ultimate message seems to be to live life as if each moment is your last, and tell the people you love that that you love them. This novel made me laugh out loud and it made me cry. I loved the characters and the private codes they used. A moving and brilliant read.