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Everything Is Illuminated/Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close


Everything Is Illuminated/Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close Cover

ISBN13: 9780547447261
ISBN10: 0547447264
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Everything Is Illuminated, Jonathan Safran Foers stunning debut, tells the story of a young Jewish American's quixotic journey into an unexpected past. Foer then turned his talent to the traumas of our recent history in his exhilarating second novel, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. This beautiful edition brings together, for the first time, two works from one of this generations most original writers.


This beautiful edition brings together, for the first time, two works from one of this generations most original writers.

About the Author

Jonathan Safran Foer is the author of the novels Everything is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, and a work of nonfiction, Eating Animals. His books have won numerous awards and have been translated into 36 languages. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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margot.anderson27, March 29, 2012 (view all comments by margot.anderson27)
Review on Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close tells the story of a nine year old boy, Oskar, who loses his beloved father, Thomas Schell, in the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001. Approximately two years after his death, Oskar discovers a key in his father’s room. The reader gets the privilege to follow Oskar through the five boroughs of New York City trying to find a lock that his key will open. Foer also writes about Oskar’s grandmother’s and grandfather’s emotional trauma due to the loss of their son and each other. Although Foer includes Oskar’s grandparents’ stories, the main focus is on Oskar who spends eight months searching for a lock in hopes of discovering a mystery that will bring him closer to his father. Foer’s overlapping plot lines, connecting the theme of “overcoming the emotional trauma of personal loss”, specific diction, and tone allow the reader to sincerely experience the emotions an affected family deals with while recovering from the loss of a husband, father and son. Ultimately, this realistic novel opens the reader’s eyes to one of the thousands of victimized families of the terrorist attacks.
Foer successfully structures his novel by writing several differing plot lines in varying formats, but eventually ties them together through a central theme. This creates suspense and interest throughout the entire work. Although this novel is centered on Oskar Schell and his search to find the right lock, almost all the characters introduced along the way are tied together at the end. For instance, Thomas Schell narrates various letters to his unknown son. Near the end of the novel is when his character notices that “every weekend morning, [Oskar] left the building with an old man and went knocking on doors around the city, [he] made a map of where they went, but [he] couldn’t make sense of it, it made no sense, where were they doing?”(278).The theme of overcoming the emotional trauma of personal loss is the idea that ultimately connects all of the characters. As Oskar tries to overcome his father’s death by searching for the right lock, Thomas Schell tries to overcome his loss of time with his wife and son and moves back into his ex-wife’s house. Cleverly enough, Foer connects Thomas and Oskar near the end of the novel as Thomas is staying with his former wife and notices Oskar constantly walking around the city searching for the right lock. Foer doesn’t only tie plot lines together to connect a central theme, but he also ties plot lines in the interest of the reader. Because he connects each character’s story together near the end, the reader stays engrossed in the entire novel. When Oskar finally finds the lock, William Black says, “I’ve spent two years trying to find this key” and Oskar answers, “But I have spent eight months trying to find the lock”(295). With only 326 pages total, Foer waits until there are only 30 pages left to solve Oskar’s mystery creating suspense for the reader. Although Foer connects different plot lines together along Oskar’s journey through New York City to keep the reader intrigued, he also makes Oskar’s experience very realistic and relatable for the readers.
Foer effectively portrays emotion through his specific diction and point-of-view, and he also instills the emotions felt by the characters into the reader. When Oskar befriends Mr. Black from his apartment building, he describes the moment that Mr. Black starts crying because he finally hears “a flock of birds [that] flew by the window, extremely fast and incredibly close” (165). Witnessing this miracle from Oskar’s point-of-view infuses a feeling of sympathy into the reader. Oskar explains that “he started crying-not out of happiness, I could tell, but not out of sadness, either” (168). This scene is so impacting and touching through Oskar’s eyes because as a reader, one experiences his thoughts and confusion that he comes across on his journey to discover the lock. Another scene that establishes a permanent tone in the novel is when Oskar tells his mother, “If I could have chosen you, I would have chosen you!”(171). This harsh diction demonstrates the tension and emotion that Oskar is experiencing as he grieves over the loss of his father. Not only is this statement heartbreaking for the reader to read, it also sets a solemn tone for the most of the novel (especially between Oskar and his mother). Technically, Foer uses many literary devices to portray and instill a certain tone and emotion into the reader, but ultimately this story is an example of three thousand people’s realities.
Foer ultimately illustrates the tragedy of September 11, 2001 through the eyes of an innocent victim. Reading the majority of the novel through Oskar’s perspective and other family member’s perspectives highlights that this is only one possible story about one man who died in the attacks. Imagine the thousands of other stories. Although this novel is a realistic fiction novel, many emotions and situations that the characters deal with are tremendously real to 9/11 victims. Foer adds to the authenticity of his novel when he concludes it through Oskar’s reversed “version” of that horrific day. “Dad would’ve left his messages backward, until the machine was empty, and the plane would’ve flown backward away from him, all the way to Boston” (325). Even though Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close isn’t solely about Oskar’s story, Foer closes the novel with Oskar saying “We would have been safe” (326) which is still probably a running thought in people’s heads.
Overall, this novel accomplishes the goal all writers wish to achieve. The raw emotion and intriguing yet heartbreaking story of a victimized family keeps the reader from placing the book down. Near the beginning, every chapter introduces a new character and point-of-view yet as the novel progresses, Foer successfully ties all the loose ends of the plots together. Putting aside all the smaller stories about each character, Foer ultimately leaves the reader sympathetic, heartbroken and with a new outlook on the effects of that horrific day on a beautiful September morning.
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Product Details

Foer, Jonathan Safran
Houghton Mifflin
Literature-A to Z
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
from 9
59 halftones; 12 pages w/ color
8.25 x 5.5 in 1 lb
Age Level:
from 14

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Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

Everything Is Illuminated/Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close New Hardcover
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Product details 656 pages Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) - English 9780547447261 Reviews:
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This beautiful edition brings together, for the first time, two works from one of this generations most original writers.
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