Sunday, March 18, 2012
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Jonathan Safran Foer’s second novel, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, was published in 2005 and received numerous accolades. It spent numerous months on the New York Times Best Sellers list, and was adapted into an Academy Award nominated motion picture in 2011. This novel is written in a unique style and outlines numerous aspects of human nature; both good and bad.
There are two main storylines within the novel; both discuss the feelings of two main characters whose lives have been torn apart by war. One storyline focuses on the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, while the other focuses on the firebombing of Dresden during World War II. The main protagonist of the story is Oskar Schell, whose father was killed in the collapse of the World Trade Center. While Oskar is looking through his father’s closet, he accidentally comes across a mysterious key inside an envelope with the word “black” written on it. This discovery triggers Oskar’s investigation throughout New York City to find the origin of the lock that the key fits, hoping to learn something about his father. Not only does the reader learn about Oskar on this journey, but also about the lives of the strangers he encounters. The second protagonist remains a mystery throughout the novel, and is slowly introduced to readers through a series of letters. There is a familial circle between this character and Oskar that is revealed at the end of the novel.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is narrated in a very interesting manner. It switches between Oskar’s first person narration, and letters addressed to either him or his father. Oskar’s narration is written in a “stream of consciousness” style, and many illustrations and photographs are included within the novel. It was often unclear who was talking at a particular time because each character’s dialogue is not separated with a line break, as is often done in novels. A large amount of information and character development is presented initially in the first half of the novel, often causing the reader to feel weighed down. Ultimately, in the end of the novel, each storyline resolves flawlessly and the tying of each loose end will make the reader smile.
Both high school and adult readers can relate to the concepts and themes presented within Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Several themes of the novel, such as loss and death, would be appropriate for a more mature audience. Throughout the traumatic situations, the character development is very strong and readers feel sympathy for Oskar. Does Oskar find the lock that fits the key? To find out, dive into and unlock the secrets of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close! –Helen B., Class of 2012