Moving right along. I just finished Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. When I asked for book recommendations, this was suggested by a Facebook friend -- a former student. My original goal was to read ten books recommended by friends -- this was book number five.
When Alex was in the sixth grade I read The Catcher in the Rye to him. I'd never read it before and didn't know a thing about it. We agreed that I would read the bad language aloud, but that it was not language that was okay for Alex to say. As we read the book I began to get very concerned about the narrator, Holden Caulfield. I knew something was wrong with him and I was worried about him like a mother would worry. Then he reveals that his brother died and I knew why something was wrong -- and I wanted someone to know and to help him. Then at the end of the book I know someone DID help. That was the whole book for me -- making sure that someone helped Holden deal with the terrible death of his brother. I wonder what my take-away would have been if I had read the book as a teenager; I should ask Alex (although he wasn't a teenager yet).
Anyway, that's the same feeling I had when reading this book. Oskar Schell is the main narrator (there's a sub-story that is mostly narrated by his grandfather). He's ten years old and the story begins (sort of) two years after Oskar's father died on 9/11. Oskar is getting help, but he's still very broken and hurting and dealing with incredible pain. So all of my mom feelings were rising up and I was wanting to be sure he would be okay throughout the whole thing. At the same time, Oskar is very precocious and special and funny so while the book could be thoroughly depressing, it never is. There's lots of loss in the book -- not just Oskar's, but the losses experienced by his grandparents in World War II -- but what matters more than the loss is the coping, the trying to come to grips with the difficulty of living. I really did like this book. The ending was as satisfying as it could be and stay realistic (I mean, Oskar isn't as happy as a clam at the end, but I was left with the sense that he would be able to deal with his father's death and accept it). I hope that's not a spoiler -- the point of this book isn't how it ends, anyway. The point of the book is just...Oskar. Wonderful Oskar.
I've already chosen my next book. Bruce has a commentary on Job that had belonged to his mother. It will be interesting to read a Jewish commentary.