Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
This book is easily one of my favorite books of all time. Jonathan Safran Foer is an amazing author who I will always admire because of his unique style and voice, the humorous stories of difficult topics he conveys so well, and the feelings he provokes within the reader.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close details the accounts of nine year-old Oskar Schell and his adventure through New York City. After his father dies in 9/11, Oskar finds an envelope with the word "Black" written across the cover, and a key inside. Oskar tries to decipher what the meaning of this could be, and hopes that the answer will help him discover more about his late father. He decides to visit everyone in the city with the last name Black and see if they know about the key, or his father.
Oskar is an unforgettable character, as he is intelligent, inspiring, diligent and strong about his beliefs. He loves to invent things, wonder about the world, write letters to acclaimed scientists, and study French. He is a vegan and a pacifist.
He's not your normal nine year-old, which has given Foer some harsh criticism in stating that he is too smart and not believable. I disagree. Oskar's personality is what sets him apart, and allows him to have these admirable traits. It's how he is - how he was raised, how he thinks, and what he feels he should be. He's not ridiculously intelligent beyond his years. I found him different, special, and that's what drew me to him. Telling the story from the perspective of your average nine year-old would not be as interesting or captivating as Oskar's voice is.
The perspective changes from Oskar to his grandmother, to his grandfather whom he has never met. Much of their portion of the novel entails letters written to Oskar, or his father. All three have beautifully written unique voices that make up the story and define what it's like in a family of troubles. They all find friendship, love, and loss as they reconcile with tragic events.
My favorite line EVER is from this book - "...beautiful and broken, like a cobblestone road." Simple, sweet, descriptive and it's only 7 words.
I conclude that this novel is a must read, especially for writers. Foer's craft is unlike any other and is worth the read. I was able to learn a lot from him while getting lost in an entertaining tale.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close will be released as a movie in 2012 starring Sandra Bullock, Tom Hanks, and John Goodman.
Foer's other books include Everything is Illuminated, Tree of Codes and a non-fiction work called Eating Animals.