This book has been on my reading list for over a year. Well, for at least a year. I even started it last year but had to take it back to the library before I got overdue fines for it. Coincidentally, almost the same thing happened this year. Probably almost to the day.
I was able to renew it and started into as soon as I finished The Paris Wife. The same night in fact.
I don't know if it was because I had seen the movie (and cried gross ugly tears) and knew what was going to happen right at the start or if it was just the way Jonathan Safran Foer captures emotion. Whatever the reason, I got about 16 pages in and found myself crying.
Maybe it is the subject matter. It isn't a secret. It is in every summary of the book out there and every review of the movie. It is the story of Oskar Schell and his life after his father died on September 11, 2001.
Maybe that was the reason I just couldn't read it. I don't like watching fictionalized accounts of that day. I watched the movie World Trade Center with my freshman college class. I cried in front of a bunch of strangers (who thankfully became my friends). The images are still too real, too ingrained in my head. I can still see it replayed on the old TV set in my music teacher's basement.
I realize that much fiction has been written about it, and will continue to be written about it. More films will probably be made about it in an attempt to memorialize the lives of those who were lost. I have no personal story to tell. No one from my family or distant relations was there. I know one family that lost someone from their family. You could say that I was pretty far removed, personally, from the horrors of that day. But it happened in my lifetime. It is very much a part of my story.
Oskar Schell's story isn't just about loss. It is about the intense forever very Christ-like love his mother displays for him. The kind that you can't always see, but once you know it is there you realize it was keeping you safe the whole time you thought you were unloved and ignored. It is about discovering loss around you; even in your deepest, darkest, most sad day, others are existing in their own hell on earth. It is about the spirit of adventure and being constantly ready to learn, even if you make mistakes. You aren't failing; you are leaning 100 wrong ways to do something. It is also about finding things: bits of history in Central Park, how things are connected in the world around us, and relatives you didn't you about.
If you can read fictional accounts about that day, please read this book. Tell me that was just like the movie, that they were able to capture the same emotions and story line. Tell me you cried at the movie and that the book made you a little misty eyed. Tell me the book spoke to your emotions and made you think. But, most of all, tell me the truth.