Extremely Surprised and Incredibly Pleased

Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”, published in 2005, is an excellent illustration of the lives and thoughts of those affected by the events of 9/11 and World War II.


Photo Courtesy Of Zach Asato

“Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” is a popular book among today’s youth. It has been incorporated into many school course curriculums.

Danielle Moran, Columnist

I’d personally like to thank my teacher Ms. Shaheen, spring break assignments, and the chances of eenie-meenie-miney-moe for exposing me to the wonderful works of Jonathan Safran Foer. It is because of you all that I am now able to say what my favorite book is in those little All About Me quizzes and complete the “Interests” section on my Facebook profile page. I’ll admit I was not enthusiastic about reading this book at first – the ideas of shadowing my spring break with a black cloud of depressing reading and dark themes did not seem appealing to me. However, I was so incredibly surprised (and pleased) with what I found within the pages of Jonathan Safran Foer’s “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.”

Foer’s novel is set in two different time periods and locations. It bounces between New York after the 2001 terrorist attacks (where the story is mostly told from the perspective of nine-year-old Oskar Schell whose dad was killed in the attacks) and Dresden, Germany before and after World War II (told from the perspectives of Oskar’s grandparents). Both settings have massively tragic histories and all of the characters have lost a loved one, so naturally I was in no rush at all to begin reading. What surprised me, however, was that the book does not focus on these disasters and the idea of death as I thought it would. Rather, it focuses on how the those affected by the tragedies coped and tried to survive through the pain, which I found to be quite heartening.

This unforeseen theme of fighting through personal trauma is not the only reason I became so infatuated with the book. The thing that really got me going was the character Oskar Schell. He suffers from insomnia, panic attacks, and depression due to the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and the death of his father. But this kid has a brain that never stops turning, a heart that never stops caring, and a curiosity that can never be killed. He is extremely empathetic and explores matters much more deeply than the common nine-year-old.

I absolutely loved seeing his thoughts and how his imagination works. It doesn’t make sense, yet it does. It’s creative and original and innovative and philosophical and it’s all packed into the witty mind of this boy who’s only trying to get through life. He’s oblivious to his own mental suffering, yet he picks up on every little detail and sentiment the world around him has to offer. Every word that leaves his mouth gives the reader something to think about.

Foer did a spectacular job writing “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.” It’s a tearjerker and an inspiration, and definitely a five-star read in my book. I wouldn’t be surprised if I find myself rereading this book again and again for years to come.