Narrated by a young precocious boy, Oskar, as he stumbles across a mysterious key in his dad’s closet. Believing it’s part of the usual father/son scavenger hunt game that they always played, all the while trying to cope and deal with his father dying on September 11. He embarks on a quest throughout the boroughs of New York City to try and find what lock the key would open, enlisting the help of some unlikely people and encountering a cast of characters along the way.
Mainly told through the eyes of Oskar, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is also interspersed with narrations from two other characters, of which they’re slowly revealed who they are and what their relevance is. Also mixed into the book are photos of various things. At first, they don’t quite make sense. Why are these seemingly random pictures included throughout the pages? But, like the other narrators, as the reader keeps going with the book, their relevance becomes evident. It’s a very clever and interesting way to tell the story, as if you’re experiencing and discovering everything with the young boy.
With the sad underlying tone of 9/11, Foer has managed to tell a remarkable story of a family affected by the death of one of their members from this tragic incident. The fear, the depression, the magnitude of emotions that Oskar goes through all seems real and tangible. I found the only part of the book that wasn’t flushed out enough for me was the man, Thomas, who doesn’t speak. The reason why he suddenly can’t talk anymore (being able to speak fewer and fewer words) and now writes everything wasn’t very clear to me, and the constant repetition of how he doesn’t speak, but not really knowing exactly why, seemed unsatisfying.
Other than that, however, it really was an engaging read. I didn’t realize I had gotten through it as quickly as I did!
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ (4/5 stars)