Friday, December 2, 2011

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

I read this book many years ago, when its cover caught my eye on the New Books shelf at the Blake Library back at home.  It is a beautiful cover, evocative and definitive.  The stark graphic belies that the book has a rather bleak beginning, a boy loses his father during the 9/11 attacks, but the colors are optimistic and hopeful.  The typography, a bit haphazard and in two separate directions, is a nod to the somewhat convoluted perspectives from which the story is told.
Oskar Schell is a precocious 9-year old who is reeling from his father's death the year prior.  He finds a mysterious key labeled "Black" on top of his father's armoire, and sets out to find out why his dad, Thomas Schell, had this key and what it means.  His trek takes him all over the city of New York, where he meets a woman who lives on top of the Empire State Building, a 103-year old neighbor who joins him on the journey, and a wealthy woman who scares Oskar when she offers him finger sandwiches.  Oskar's story is interwoven with both of his grandparents' stories, who survived the Dresden bombings during WWII, their generation's and country's version of 9/11.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is really a story about coming to grips with loss and the worst sides of humanity: what do we do when our safety net is taken from us?  How do we cope with the evil that resides in the world?  Does the good really outweigh the bad?
John Paul and I listened to this audiobook on the drive to and from Illinois, and it's very well narrated.  However, pick up the print version if you can; there are some great visuals that help to bring the story to life.

1 comment:

  1. They are making a movie version this year. I think Tom Hanks is in it.