Loud and Incredibly by Jonathan Safran Foer (Penguin Books)
In a vase in a closet, a couple of
years after his father died in 9/11, nine-year-old Oskar discovers a key…The
key belonged to his father, he’s sure of that. But which of New York’s 162
million locks does it open?
So begins a quest that takes Oskar – inventor, letter-writer and amateur
detective – across New York’s five boroughs and into the jumbled lives of
friends, relatives and complete strangers.
He gets heavy boots, gives himself
little bruises and inches ever nearer to the heart of a family mystery that
stretches back fifty years. But will it take him any closer to, or even further
from, his lost father?
Before reading this
book I always thought of 9/11 victims as the people who died in the attacks;
but although they were victims, one could argue that their family and friends
were the real victims - left with the grief and emotional scars the left of
them for the rest of their lives since then.
returned from a trip to New York City, I kept thinking about this book (it gave
me heavy boots). I stood looking at the memorial of the 9/11 attacks, walked in
downtown New York City and tried to imagine what it would have been like – and
needless to say my visions made my skin crawl.
My tour guide (a native New Yorker) then explained where she had been during
the attacks and how a friend of hers who worked in The World Trade Centre had
decided to go in late that fateful morning so she could have coffee with our
tour guide. This choice ultimately saved her life.
However I digress – what I’m trying to say is that the victims of 9/11 are the
people of New York City who saw their world come tumbling down in an act of
violence it that will leave its mark for ages to come. And it is with this in
mind that I review Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.
This novel has emerged
as one of my favourite books I’ve ever read. Oskar Schell is the most lovable
(but sometimes despicable) character I have ever encountered.
What I love about this book the most however is that tells a story about
relationships, whether between a grieving mother and son, or a failed
relationship decades past.
Foer also manages to weave history together with his story in a way that this
book will make you realise that no matter how much you think you might live in
a bubble, our actions present and of years past affect the world more greatly
than we will probably ever know.
What starts off as a
boy’s adventure to find answers affects not only him but an array of
characters, sort of like when a butterfly flaps its wings, it causes a tsunami
on the other side of the planet.
I imagined Oskar running around New York City with his heavy boots, trying to
find answers. This is a beautiful story about a boy, who will probably never
completely heal from the loss of his father but who ultimately changes his life
and the lives of the scores of New Yorkers he encounters by simply wanting to
find the lock his key belongs to.
Do yourself a favour and read this book. WARNING: It will give you heavy boots.
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