There have been written many stories about the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
There have been written many stories about World War II.
But there haven’t been written many stories that contain aspects of both the events. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is one of those rare stories.
The book is narrated by Oskar Schell, a 9-year-old boy who only wants to wear white clothes, writes letters to Stephen Hawking and lost his father, Thomas, at 9/11. The book is mainly about Oskar, who is trying to find the lock for a key he found in his father’s closet. His journey takes him to all the boroughs of New York. To complete the story, the book contains letters from Oskar’s grandpa, whom he has never met, to Thomas, and letters from Oskar’s grandma to Oskar himself. Those letters tell the story of his grandparents, who survived the bomb-attack at Dresden in World War II. On his journey through New York, Oskar meets all kind of people, sees all kinds of things and conquers his fears. There are pictures shown in the book, that represent some of the things that Oskar saw and did.
Oskar’s grandparents’ story serves to bind the two events together, including all the disasters that happened in all those years. The loss of Oskar’s father is of course the main event in this book, but because of all the other stories, you’ll be aware that it’s just a tiny thing in a never-ending row of disasters. On one side, this makes the story more real, but on the other hand, it might be confusing and disrupt the main story. The book was released in 2005, which was of course just a few years after the attacks. Because of that, there were many books released about the attacks that time and it was said that Jonathan Safran Foer wrote this book for the money, because people were interested and it would sell good.
After all, the story is about coping with grief of the loss of a loved one, which everyone will handle in another way. Jonathan Safran Foer makes Oskar do this in his own beautiful way, and his mother and grandmother in a different way. The Twin Tower attacks are a very good occasion to put this in a book, because many people can relate to it, and Jonathan didn’t make it too painful for those who lost someone during the attacks.
If you like to read more about coping with grief, you might also be interested in this book:
Recently, the film adaptation of the book was released in the U.S. and soon it will be released in Europe too. This is a trailer.
In the end, coping with grief will always be hard, but it could be just slightly beautiful if seen through Oskar’s eyes.