Oskar Schell, he’s 9 years old, lives in New York and has just received news of his father’s untimely death in the devastating 9/11 attack. Jonathan Sarfan Foer’s second title, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is a read that captivates you from the very first line and lingers with you much after you put down the book.
Oskar Schell is unlike any child that you will encounter. His mind always keen with new inventions that can help the world in a way no one else has thought of. He has a variety of interests including, jewellery making, butterfly collecting and quoting Shakespeare. Unfortunately, he is also the only person to hear his father’s last message recorded on the answering machine before the collapse of the towers.
And he is grief-stricken.
Haunted by these messages, Oskar takes the reader on a quest to solve the mystery of a key found in his dad’s vase in an envelope marked Black. He believes that all answers lie within the keyhole that this key is bound to open.
The story is bold.
Foer uses the imagination of a 9 year old to help us cope with the sadness and grief (what he constantly refers to as “heavy boots”) and more importantly, the journey that many who are still mourning the loss of loved ones, have to take.
Encountering entertaining characters, like his bell-boy, the grandmother, the upstairs neighbour (who has taken hoarding to another level) and many more: with each door that Oskar knocks on, a new side to his journey is presented to the reader in the most realistic, yet serene manner.
Throughout the story, one is almost curious as to why and how no one finds it strange that a 9 year old boy, so struck by grief, is walking along the boroughs of New York, knocking on doors and questioning people about their relationship with his father. While this is a nagging thought, Foer manages to keep you distracted long enough, till the very end where your tears will find a way to you, along with a beautiful explanation.
I would definitely recommend adding this book to your shelf: it is a journey that one must experience in their life. And it is a journey that Foer has masterfully addressed.