OUR FAVORITE THINGS: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
[Welcome to Our Favorite Things, a series featuring—you guessed it!—our favorite things. From books to brands to tunes to film, these are all things we at That First Year want to shout from the rooftops about.]
As I was moving out of the college house that I had shared with five of the most wonderfully quirky girls last May, I found this book unassumingly lying on the floor of one of the semi-emptied rooms. I was so intrigued by its cover that I honestly can’t remember if I even asked any of my roomies whether or not it was theirs.
Back inside my childhood home, I attempted to arrange my room with all of the strangely mismatched belongings I had accumulated in those four years. Once everything looked as haphazardly put-together as I felt—with my predominantly blue Ikea-quality furniture mixed in with my unfortunately newly-lavender walls— I finally plopped down in my creaky, powder blue office chair and suddenly, I became hungry. And not for food.
I was starved for books.
I couldn’t remember which book I had read last, or even when that had been, for that matter. What a sobering thought, especially since I had previously loved to just curl up and consume a page-turner in a day or so.
So I picked up Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. And then, because it had not just gently eased, but burst open the floodgates, I read nine more novels… in the span of three weeks. Of all the pages flipped and prose guzzled, those of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close remained in my mind long after I’d reluctantly set it down and scribbled a checkmark next to its name.
Now, if you’re looking for an easy read with light-hearted subject matter, don’t even sniff the crisply bound pages of this book. (...am I the only one who does that?)
But if you’re prepared to delve into a novel that introduces you to characters with authentic and intense emotions, embark upon a thrilling scavenger hunt taken by the most lovably determined and complex 9 year-old boy and lose yourself in the intricacies of a plot that doesn’t need to ask you to read just one more paragraph, then make like Nike and do it.
My high school English teacher during my freshman year would constantly remind us students to “show, not tell” the reader what we wanted them to know through our writing. I understood the concept on a very surface level, but was frustrated by it. Like the smartass I was (some would disagree with my past tense here), I would think, ‘But we have to tell them… this story isn’t told in pictures!” (insert confused Jackie Chan meme)
Then came Jonathan Safran Foer, author of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, and he showed me (lolol of course he didn’t tell me…). Foer has an incredible way of sneakily guiding you to conclusions and expressing truths through the characters’ thoughts and actions. I was both captivated by and overwhelmed with emotion throughout: fawning over nuggets of wisdom that made me think, ‘YAS, exactly!’ and tearing up over deep expressions of pain, love and joy.
Currently my favorite adulthood novel (this coming from a girl who feels that definitively picking a favorite book or movie is akin to a mother choosing which of her children she loves most), Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is a touching narrative about the significance of family, the human experience through love and grief and the real impact a person can have on another’s life.
So, what are you waiting for? Get comfy and crack it open. Reunite yourself with the enchanting world of fiction.
I like to see people reunited, I like to see people run to each other, I like the kissing and the crying, I like the impatience, the stories that the mouth can't tell fast enough, the ears that aren't big enough, the eyes that can't take in all of the change, I like the hugging, the bringing together, the end of missing someone.
-Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close