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Publisher's Summary

Jonathan Safran Foer's best-selling debut novel, Everything Is Illuminated, wowed critics on its way to winning several literary prizes, including Book of the Year honors from the Los Angeles Times. It has been published in 24 countries and will soon be a major motion picture. Foer's talent continues to shine in this sometimes hilarious and always heartfelt follow-up.

Nine-year-old Oskar Schell is a precocious Francophile who idolizes Stephen Hawking and plays the tambourine extremely well. He's also a boy struggling to come to terms with his father's death in the World Trade Center attacks. As he searches New York City for the lock that fits a mysterious key his father left behind, Oskar discovers much more than he could have imagined.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is a masterfully imagined novel from an author Time hails as "a certified wunderkind".

©2005 Jonathan Safran Foer (P)2005 Recorded Books, LLC

Critic Reviews

  • 2005 Audie Award Nominee, Multi-Voiced Performance

"Piercing and so funny." (The Bookseller) "[Oskar's] first-person narration of his journey is arrestingly beautiful, and readers won't soon forget him." (Booklist) "Jonathan Safran Foer's second novel is everything one hoped it would be: ambitious, pyrotechnic, riddling, and above all...extremely moving. An exceptional achievement." (Salman Rushdie) "Brilliant....Unafraid to show his traumatized characters' constant groping for emotional catharsis, Foer demonstrates once again that he is one of the few contemporary writers willing to risk sentimentalism in order to address great questions of truth, love, and beauty." (Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall
  • JOHN
  • Plantation, FL, United States
  • 06-28-09


I will not attempt to add to what so many other reviewers have so eloquently stated. The story of a boy who lost his father in the 911 attacks would seem to be a dreary one indeed. This is NOT the case.

I loved the voice of the writing as told from the perspective of a young, precocious, intrepid vulnerable boy. This book still gives me a warm feeling, months after having finished it.

19 of 21 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Rare book

This books is so good that throughout the reading, I wished I had bought the paper version to read so I could savor the writing. It left me thinking, "I wish I could write like that!" The story is original, entertaining, and thought provoking. I have recommended it to everyone I know.

Most of the readers are great. The voice of the main character is delightful, but I found the voice of the grandfather to be slightly irritating and when he read I anxiously waited for the other characters to reappear. Other than that the book struck a perfect note.

Even though the story is engaging, it's not the story, it's the writing which is pitch perfect with each character finely drawn. I was totally absorbed on my commute. I even sat in my car in the parking lot many times to hear just a little more before I went in to work. All of my emotions were at work during this read and I loved it!

17 of 19 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Linda
  • Earlysville, VA, USA
  • 07-14-09

Touching, funny beautifully narrated

I listened to this while on a recent rod trip and couldn't wait to get back in the car to continue listening. The narration is as good as it gets, and the writing is superb. The book beautifully interweaves the stories of a young boy whose father died in the 9/11 attacks, and the stories of his grandfather, grandmother, father, the people the boy meets, and the boy himself. Foer loves and respects his characters. It is by turns funny and heartwrenching, and always deeply human. I heartily recommend this one.

13 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Extremely Young and Incredibly Bright

Occasionally I want to start a book over as soon as I finish it, but only one other time have I actually done it. I just couldn't let go of this one right away. It is brilliantly written and always thought provoking, not to mention creative in its approach. It has been quite a while since I listened to a book that I just couldn't wait to get back to but that is how this one affected me, and that is a mark of a great story.

My only criticism of this book is that nine-year-old Oscar is so smart that you would mistake him for a much older and wiser person. He is never at a loss for words and can handle the situations he constantly encounters as he looks for the lock. He just seems to know too much for his age, not just too much "book learning", but too much about life. He is so wise and sees things so clearly in many instances, things that for most people can only be learned by experience, which just takes time. But I can overlook that to get to the story. The characters are all well developed, interesting and often surprising, as are the plot and sub plots.

This book is a great commentary on life, on how all of us have tragedies and victories, on how a small decision one day can change the course of our lives, and how some events irreversibly change all of our lives. I highly recommend it.

11 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Maria
  • Lachine, Quebec, Canada
  • 08-07-12

Not what I expected...

...although I'm not quite sure what I expected.

I downloaded this book to listen to on vacation and was a little skeptical about a sad book down by the beach. It wasn't quite like that though. The book is surprisingly heartwarming, the characters loveable, the innocence of youth, refreshing.

The book isn't ABOUT 9/11. It's about the life that happens around it. It's about the sadness, but it's also about how life continues buzzing even after dreadful events. Not just 9/11 but the war, too.

Simply put, it's a balance: on one hand, its the pain, the sorrow, the hurt, the sadness, the loneliness, the scars. On the other, it's the beauty of innocence, the wonder of life itself, the power of imagination, the strength of love. It's all beautifully woven together.

Worth the listen.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Susan
  • San Dimas, CA, United States
  • 12-10-13

Incredibly Different

As another reviewer remarked, this is a difficult book to review. There were portions of the book I enjoyed, other sections I found strange. Oscar's struggles and grief over his father's death were poignant, often bringing tears to my eyes. Yet there were also portions of the story that were just plain odd. As the audiobook went on I began to dread hearing Oscar's grandmother as she read her letter. The grandfather, at least for me, wasn't quite as annoying, although he too was an odd cookie.
The narration for Oscar was excellent. The narrator (Jeff Woodman) captured Oscar's different emotions beautifully. He gives a 5 star performance. I didn't care for the narration of the grandmother, and felt Barbara Caruso's reading was flat.
Would I recommend Extremely Loud and Incredibily Close? Yes, overall I enjoyed the book, in spite of Oscar's strange grandparents. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is a funny, sweet, touching story with a bit of oddity added in.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Extremely Tender and Incredibly Moving

This book is about the effects of grief and how one family copes with the loss of a beloved father. The novel begins sometime after that fateful day 9/11. Thomas Schell, father, son, and husband, perished in the attacks, and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is narrated by his son, Oskar. It's interspersed with letters from Oskar's grandfather to his son, Thomas, and letters from Oskar's grandmother to Oskar. Together it tells the history of this family, and the pain and suffering caused by the loss of their loved one.
I found this incredibly moving.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close can be uplifting and soul searing at different times. With the horrors and wounds of the 9/11 attacks still fresh, this novel may hit too close to home for some people. By the end of this book, how that awful day happened for all members of Oskar's family is known, and beyond the pain lies hope, and Oskar is not as alone as he thinks he is. Oskar Schell's story is one to cherish, and perhaps that metaphor for the lost innocence of the world is one we all ought to acknowledge and embrace.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Angie
  • Kansas City, MO, United States
  • 05-04-08


I think that this is one of the best books I have ever read. This book and The Book Thief are amazing stories of love and loss and heartbreak and very important historical events seen through the eyes of children. I read this book first and now have listened to it. The only thing that is lost is that in the book you get to see pages from Oskar's journals "Stuff that Has Happened to Me" It is the story of a family set at the time of about a year after Septmber 11. Oskar is 9 and having a hard time dealing with the death of his father. His mother is having a hard time dealing with him and her own grief. This is also the story of his grandmother and grandfather. It is an excellent family drama and I loved it.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

beautiful and thought provoking

An affective translation of an unusually produced book to audio. The pacing of the narrative voice brings as much meaning to the words spoken as the silences between them.

One can not help but have both viseral and emotional reactions to this most human of stories. I laughed out loud. Tears ran down my face. I thought deeply about my own losses and of the expectations I have of those most close to me.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Solid Novel - Only a Few Imperfections

This was my first Audible audio book and I was pleasantly surprised. EL&IC follows the story of young Oskar Schell on a quest that he believes will help him feel closer to his father who died in the attacks on the World Trade Center. I've been told that this is a book that's best read, not heard, but the three narrators were great actors and conveyed much more than I would have thought they could.

The story is told through narratives by the three main characters; Oskar, his paternal grandfather and his paternal grandmother. The narrative shifts from character to character, always without warning and sometimes at jarring times. I found some narratives more compelling than others, growing weary about midway through the book of listening to Oskar's grandfather's narrative, but as the book approached resolution I found his narrative fascinating again.

Occasionally the story was slow. Occasionally it was repetitive to the point of minor annoyance. Occasionally I found myself thinking that Oskar's many idiosyncracies felt horribly contrived. But as the narrative closed, I found myself wanting to learn more about quirky young Oskar and his world. It was well worth the listen.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful