“It’s always necessary…I love you.”
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
I didn’t choose this book, it chose me.
I’ve had it on my to-read shelf for years…and assumed it would stay there forever. I’m one of those people who just, just can’t even listen or read or want to revisit 9/11. Not even on the anniversary. And I didn’t even know anyone who was killed that day. Or if I think about it, I’m even not sure I know someone, who knows someone. Although I probably do, I just choose not to know.
So finding myself reading (listening actually) to this book is quite a surprise. I came across one of those sale emails from Audible, something like a buy one get one free book and found one title I wanted and then this one called out to me. I put it in my cart. Just because I was getting it for free did not mean I would actually listen to it…
But for some reason I started it last night. And I was pleasantly shocked that I found myself actually completely engaged, despite the content.
I adored the way the author intertwined several stories and voices to tell his story. I couldn’t get enough of the wildly, precocious child…(in my head he was about 12, not 9 though.)
I ended up crying, of course. Lots of times. (I’m the person who can’t hear the National Anthem perform live without crying…) Sometimes found myself crying from deep down somewhere I wasn’t expecting, but that wasn’t even because of the child losing his father in 9/11, but rather the very real, raw emotions and confusion and longing for closure and understanding things that would never make sense and trying to remember all the minute details that the child was feeling because he lost his father.
I remember having those feelings when my dad died when I was a teenager. At times all I could think of when I heard this child’s voice was how my brother must have been feeling, three years younger than I. I couldn’t help but think about my Husband and what he must have felt too, because he too lost his father as a child. The author nailed the raw, painful moments more than once. Not just of dealing with his dad being gone, but watching his mother cope and try to move on as well. And this took me by surprise.
That said, remembering 9/11 through the words in this story haunted me. The innocence of a child…not being able to pick up the phone.
But beautifully told.
And there were moments that made me smile and giggle too…it wasn’t all melancholy and pain. Sadly, sometimes I felt that the multiple stories clouded up the part of the story I really wanted to hear about that very moment, but that’s just me being selfish.
I have no idea why I was meant to read this book at this time, but I’m a better person for doing so. This one is one I will recommend to others, but I know I will never be able to listen to again.