Book review “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close”

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Everybody knows what happened the 9th of September 2001 in New York City, in the United States of America. Two planes flew into the Twin Towers. These terrorist attacks killed nearly three thousand people from many countries in and around both towers and they will never be forgotten.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, written by Jonathan Safran Foer, tells the story of a little boy who lost his father the 9th of September 2001.

The main character, whose named Oskar Schnell, is a nine-year-old boy. He is an inventor, pacifist, romanticist, explorer, amateur detective, collector, and archaeologist. He creates jewellery, writes a lot of fan mail (to Stephen Hawking) and speaks some French. Almost two years after the death of his father he finds a key in a blue vase in a closet. That’s where his journey starts: he wants to discover what the key is for and what it means.

His research takes place all over New York. He doesn’t want anyone to know so he keeps it a secret to himself. To make that possible he has to tell a lot of lies, which he hates. Keeping his adventure a secret also gives him heavy boots. Sometimes he feels like not showing any emotion and sometimes he hurts himself, which causes little bruises.

During his journey he meets a lot of new people. One of them is the Old Mr Black. He lives in the same building as Oskar. Mr Black is a 103-year-old war reporter and joins Oskar on his adventure.

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Jonathan Safran Foer isn’t a historian, although his books include world history. He is a novelist who writes about the impact of historical events on people. In this novel you can see what kind of impact 9/11 had on Oskar, but also on his mom, grandmother and especially his grandfather. His grandfather left before Oskar’s dad, Thomas Schnell, was born and came back after his death. He never knew his son and because of that the impact on him is different then on the other characters. That doesn’t mean that the impact on the other three characters is the same for each of them. For Oskar Thomas was a dad, for Oskar’s mom Thomas was a husband and for Oskar’s grandmother Thomas was a son.

The novel includes not only Oskar’s story, but also the story of his grandfather and grandmother. The chapters are each named differently and have different structures. For example, some of the chapters about his grandfather include a life story written as a letter to “My Unborn Child” or “My Child”. “My Unborn Child” and “My Child” refer to Thomas Schnell.

The book also includes a lot of pictures and almost empty pages. The pictures are intended to be images of Oskar’s thoughts or things that he collected in his process to understand the world. The almost empty pages belong to the mysterious character that doesn’t talk anymore.

The book makes a great impression. The fantasy of Jonathan Safran Foer comes to life while the touching story takes place. The story includes tension and at the time a funny dialog between Oskar and his mind, mom or grandmother.

“ Another good thing is that I could train my anus to talk when I farted. If I wanted to be extremely hilarious, I’d train to say, ‘Wasn’t me!” every time I made an incredibly bad fart. And if I ever made an incredibly bad fart in the Hall of Mirrors, which is in Versailles, which is outside of Paris, which is in France, obviously, my anus would say, ‘ Ce n’étais pas moi!’ “

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