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3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The book is good but the movie is better Dec 28 2012
By Barry Francis TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, by Jonathan Safran Foer, is incredibly close to being a great read. The plot is imaginative and both funny and sad at the same time. Although highly compelling, the book falls short in its excessively lengthy and complex story line which would have benefited from some skillful editing.

The main character is nine-year-old Oskar Schell, a whip-smart boy whose father died in the world trade center on 9-11. Oskar has an especially close relationship with his father, who may suspect his child has Asperger's Syndrome, and stimulates him with challenges, puzzles and mysteries.

An aspiring inventor, Oskar imagines amazing creations, collects random photographs for his scrapbook and sends numerous letters to famous scientists, including Stephen Hawking.

Let off school early on that fateful day, Oskar cannot bear to pick up the phone for his father's last desperate calls which are recorded on the family answering machine. Driven by guilt and sadness, he hides the machine from his mother. In the aftermath, he finds a key hidden in his father's things in an envelope marked "Black."

Believing that the key will somehow unlock a mystery devised by his late father, Oskar sets out to speak to everyone in New York named Black, aided by his mute grandfather (a survivor of the WWII bombing of Dresden). His goal is to find the lock that matches that mysterious key.

Using a complex indexing system that he devises, he undertakes this seemingly impossible task that brings him into contact with a range of interesting people in an exhilarating, often hilarious, and ultimately healing odyssey.

Some reviewers think the book is exploitive of the 911 tragedy. I don't. The incredible trauma caused by that event is an essential element of the plot.

My advice: If you like the book, see the movie. It's what the book could have been.

Barry Francis
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "It's always necessary" June 15 2006
This is a beautifully written book about loss & recovery, and expression & humanity within relationships. The way we do & do not communicate with each other. The last few chapters & the ending will pull you by the heart & will not ask for mercy, it is so fulfilling.

There are two types of books: when finished a book & someone asks you how it was, you tell them what it was about; the second type of book, when finished, you can only describe how it made you feel.

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close is the latter.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Extremely close March 25 2007
Sometimes an author has a theme running through all of his writing -- in the case of Jonathan Safran Foer, it seems to be a quest of the soul. His follow-up to the cult hit "Everything Is Illuminated" is the poignant, quirky, tender "Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close," which takes readers back to the rubble of ground zero.

Oskar Schell is a precocious preteen, who has been left depressed and traumatized. His father died in the September 11 attacks, leaving behind a mysterious key in an envelope with the word "Black" on it. So with the loyalty and passion that only a kid can muster, he begins to explore New York in search of that lock.

As Oskar explores Manhatten, Foer also reaches throughout history to other horrific attacks that shattered people's lives, including his traumatized grandparents. Though the book is sprinkled with letters and stories from before Oskar's time, the boy's quest is the center of the book. And when he finally finds where the key belongs, he will find out a little something about human nature as well...

Historically, only a short time has passed since 9/11, and in some ways "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" reopens the wounds. It reminds me of all the families who lost fathers, mothers and children. But Foer doesn't use cheap sentimentalism to draw in his readers, nor does he exploit the losses of September 11th families. It takes guts to write a book like this, and skill to do it well.

In some ways, this book is much like Foer's first novel, but he deftly avoids retreading old ground -- the "quest" is vastly different, the young protagonist is very different, and the conflicts and loss are different, though no less hard-hitting.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars THIS BOOK GAVE ME "HEAVY BOOTS" Aug. 16 2013
Reviewers seemed to either think this book was "absolute genius" or not be able to finish it. I fall somewhere in the middle because while as a whole it was haunting and unforgettable some sections were a struggle to get through.

Told from the mind of nine year old Oskar Schell, we enter his world about a year after the "The worst day" and subsequent death of his father during the 9/11 attacks at the World Trade Centre. It soon becomes apparent that Oskar is not your average nine year old. He is an inventor, a collector, musical prodigy, lover of Shakespeare, Stephen Hawking's pen pal and a detective. And his IQ and differences (possibly some form of autism or Asperger's syndrome) set him apart from his peers.

His father nurtured his above average intelligence, creating intricate mysteries for Oskar to solve and he felt closer to him than anyone, which is why he is having such a hard time coming to terms with his death. Oscar can't sleep and is continually inventing ways to stop buildings from falling to the ground. He has also developed rules that make it easier for him to function in the world and not "wear heavy boots" i.e.-feel anxious. He only wears white clothes, won't go above the 6th floor in buildings, won't ride elevators or ferries and gives himself bruises when he feels particularly anxious or lies about something.

One day while smelling the clothes in his father's closet Oskar stumbles upon a blue vase and in turn a key and a letter that simply says "Black". Taking it upon himself to solve this one last mystery Oskar sets off to find information about the key. After going through the phone book Oskar discovers that there are 472 people with the name Black living in New York, surely one of them will know something about the key.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
high quality, low price
Published 16 days ago by Selina Wang
2.0 out of 5 stars Misleading Summary of Storyline
This book was on the reading list for my 15-year old son's English class. I thought I would read it at the same time to see what it was about because the description on the back... Read more
Published 1 month ago by KMac
4.0 out of 5 stars Not at all what I expected....better!
The most unusual mystery I've ever read. This is one of those unique stories that is one of a kind.
I'm not going to spoil it by discussing the plot. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Sylvia Holt
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully Unique
The thing that I will remember most about this book is how poetic the author's style is. The layout of this book reminds me of a poem with it's quirky grammatical style, and... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Farrah
1.0 out of 5 stars Some very unnecessary aspects
I was really looking forward to this book....and, therefore, was very disappointed. I am not sure a young child should be wandering the streets of New York alone. Read more
Published 12 months ago by 3bunnies
3.0 out of 5 stars Book is good, Shipper isn't
I really enjoyed this novel, but I had bought it used to save money. Usually, used books still are perfectly fine. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Jenna Mazur
2.0 out of 5 stars Precious, overly amused with itself
September 11th and the Holocaust are two subjects that are easy use if you are an author looking to add emotional weight to your novel, but are difficult to use well. Read more
Published on Jan. 16 2012 by Mary Lavers
4.0 out of 5 stars Moving
The story relates the effort of a nine year old boy in finding information on a key left by his father, who died in the 9/11 attacks. Read more
Published on Feb. 1 2011 by S. Lavigne
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read
Safran Foer is one of today's finest writers. The voice of Oscar in this novel is at once true and endearing. Read more
Published on Jan. 14 2011 by Jennifer A. Kirkwood
4.0 out of 5 stars Perfect
One of the only books that I've shed tears to. Oskar's adventurous proclivities and over-sensitivities are perfectly patched together with NYC and its 9/11 wounds.
Published on Aug. 21 2010 by SBuckle
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