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Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

by on March 19, 2012

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer deals with the aftermath of 9/11 from nine-year-old Oskar Schell’s perspective. His father died September 11, 2001 in the World Trade Center and he embarks on a journey to find the lock to a mysterious key that he finds in his father’s possessions.

I was 14 when 9/11 happened and I can’t really say how I felt at the time. I don’t think I realized the gravity or severity of the situation. I do remember sitting in first period French class and having the speaker come on advising us that there would be counsellors available all day if needed and that was kind of when it all began to sink in. Canada may be an entirely different country but very little separates us from the US and I think most of us began to realize just how close to home this attack was.

It’s weird. My sister was born 8 days later on September 19th and I can’t remember much about going to the hospital or bringing her home. I’ve blocked out a lot of my teenage years because the memories aren’t that great but you’d think I’d remember that. It’s just one of those things that you kind of regret not cherishing because soon enough babies grow into toddlers and toddlers grow into little people. And then they become little people with personalities, and then bigger people with bigger personalities.

This book was a fairly easy read. I enjoyed how engaging this book was in that it’s more than just a book. It was a diary, it was a photo journal, it had pops of colours on some of the pages, and sometimes the words literally blended together. Oskar Schell is on a mission to find the lock that his key fits. The only clue he has is the word “Black” written on the envelope that held the key. He decides to visit every person in New York with the last name Black and he meets a whole host of people.

The book is about finding solace after tragedy. Not just for Oskar, but for everyone he comes into contact with whether they’re stranger, friend, or family. Oskar doesn’t know whether or not a person with the last name Black is really going to lead him to the lock his key fits but just seeing how many lives he touches and is touched by is kind of inspiring. Just a little bit.

I would be interested in seeing the movie version of this book only because I find it hard to imagine it in movie form. There are some books that are so great and fantastic that I would feel ripped off on behalf of everyone who hasn’t read it yet if their opinion was only based on the movie — or worse, ruined by the movie. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is not one such book but The Time-Traveller’s Wife was. Not to say that this isn’t a good book — because it totally is — it’s just not one I can see a movie completely ruining. And I suppose that’s not a bad thing, either.

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