The book Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is about a boy named Oskar whose father passed away in 9-11. In the beginning of the book Oskar is in his fathers closet looking at all of his things and smelling them because they make him feel closer to his father. When he goes to reach for something in the top of his fathers closet a blue vase falls and breaks and inside he finds an envelope with “Black” written on it. Inside the envelope is a key. Oskar maps out every house where someone with the last name black lives, and every weekend and sometimes after school he goes and visits each one trying to figure out what the key opens to be closer to his dad. Throughout Oskars journey there are stories told about his grandmother and grandfathers past. The book tells stories of love, tragedy, adventure, and history. Though Oskar has no idea his mother finds out that he is visiting the Blacks around all of New York and calls them ahead of time to make sure they’re nice to him and treat him well. Oskar’s grandmother lives across from him and his mother and his grandmother has a ‘renter’ living with her. Oskar becomes curious about the renter because he has never seen, heard, or been told anything about him. Throughout the story it becomes known to readers that the renter is Oskar’s grandfather who does not speak. Oskar’s grandmother and grandfather had a long history; they both lived in Germany and his grandmother’s sister Anna and Oskars grandfather were once in love. They had planned to be together forever and then the bombing of Dresden happened and she died, but Oskar’s grandmother survived. Many years later he was sitting in a coffee shop and Anna’s sister recognized him and asked him to marry her. They got married and had a very complicated marriage with ‘Nothing Places’ and ‘Something Places’. Oskar was frustrated and went to find his grandmother and he couldn’t find her; but he found the renter. Even though his grandmother told the renter to never talk to Oskar or let Oskar see him he saw how upset Oskar was and he let Oskar tell him his story. Oskar told him about all of the Blacks that he visited and what they were like; but little did her know, his grandfather already knew because he had been following him the whole time to make sure he was okay. Oskar thought that he would never find out what the key went to and then one of the Blacks that he had met called him and said that she could help him and to go to a man’s office. He went to the office and found out that the key had belonged to a Mr. Black the whole time and that it was all just a coincidence. The man’s father had passed away so he had an estate sale and Oskar’s father bought the blue vase from them. The man later found a note that said to use the key in the vase in a safety deposit box to get what his father had left him. The whole time that Oskar was trying to find out what the key went to, the man was trying to find the key.
One of my favorite parts of this book was when the author was writing about how Anna’s father treated books. He would read the book in full, when it fell he would pick it up and kiss it, and after he was done reading it he would try to find someone to give it to who would treated it with love. I thought that it was interesting that the author decided that if the father could not find someone to five the book to he would bury it. I never quite got why he would bury it, but I’m assuming it was because he respected and cared for the books like they were people.
The book Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is full of wonderful quotes; such as, “You cannot protect yourself from sadness without protecting yourself from happiness.” This book was full of great writing and Jonathan Safran Foer is now one of my top five favorite authors.