by Jonathan Safran Foer

Reviewer Rating:


This is easily my favorite novel by Foer. This book depicts the perspective of Oskar Schell, a 9-year old living in NY during the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers. The book is generally about his quest to come to terms with his father's death in the attacks. It takes an external form of his search for a lock that goes with a key found in his father's closet, though Foer makes it clear that the real story is in the damage that has occurred to the survivors, not just of these events but of all the tragedy of life.

Oskar's tale is a balance to his grandfather's more fragmented and cryptic account, which has some wonderful, deeply emotional moments, but is a somewhat heavier read. Foer does a great job of balancing humor and heartache in Oskar's sections, which leaves a pleasant poignancy to the reading. However, the reader must be able to come to terms with the fact that the 9-year old's voice is highly unrealistic for a child and sounds instead like Foer's own voice, as if he couldn't resist adding his clever wit and complexity of imagination to this boy. The sensitive 9-year old seems to be a device he's using to add an innocent face to his observations. It seems easier for a child to be overwhelmed by the inexplicable violence of the world, though the grandfather shows the long-term effects as well.

I enjoyed the wordplay and illustrative diagrams in the novel, and found the story incredibly humorous and touching. The book has been accused of being pretentious and overly cloying, so it may not be everyone's cup of tea. However, I found it thoroughly enjoyable and emotional.

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