Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close - by Carolyn Mackler
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

"addresses the heartbreaking story of children affected by 9-11 attacks"


A key, a mystery, a nine year old boy, and the lives of many people. These are the things Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close centers around. Oskar Schell, a very unique boy living in New York City, is attempting to deal with the sudden death of his father in the attacks on the World Trade Center as well as trying to solve the mystery he left behind. Oskar’s journey begins with the discovery of a key in an envelope marked “Black” left behind in his father’s things. In dealing with the loss of his father, he decides to search for the owner of the key. This search leads him to meet various people in New York with the last name Black, many of which Oskar befriends. In addition to Oskar’s point of view, the book is partly told through the viewpoint of Oskar’s grandparents. The story of their lives and their survival of the holocaust are told in pieces throughout the book.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is an extremely funny and incredibly touching story about a hyper-intelligent, tambourine playing, French speaking young boy who is coping with the loss of his father by trying to discover one more secret about him. You can’t help but love Oskar, whose many quirks include his desire to be Stephen Hawking’s protégé and his ability to come up with an invention to fix any problem. This book does a great job of addressing the issue of the loss of a parent and the heartbreaking story of the many children who were affected by the attacks on September 11th. Foer’s ability to tell the story from the views of Oskar and his grandparents makes the story more interesting and complex. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close runs a close second to Foer’s first book, Everything is Illuminated, which was written in a similar way.

The story’s journey and the myriad of characters met by Oskar creates a captivating story which people of all ages can enjoy. Oskar’s naïve and hopeful spirit help to give the book a more cheery outlook despite its heavy themes of love, loss, death, and growth. Innocent humor and Oskar’s childlike determination through the many challenges presented to him makes Oskar that much more lovable. All throughout the many twists and turns of Oskar’s adventure, you find yourself rooting for Oskar and the search for the lock to his key. Once started, you won’t be able to put down this fascinating story of Oskar’s journey.

    - Nikki H.