Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

One of the top titles on amazon.com for Autism Awareness Month is “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.”  My wife read this a few months back and really liked it and I’ve been on the waiting list at our local library.  Finally got the book and I think within two days I had read the entire thing.

Image from Google Images

I think most people are familiar with the premise in the story thanks to the major motion picture featuring some pretty big names including Sandra Bullock and Tom Hanks.  I should mention, one of my good friends watched the movie and posted the following on his Facebook, “I haven’t been able to stop crying for over an hour. I’ve run out of Kleenex and moved onto the toilet paper. #disclaimer_for_”Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.”

The entire storyline is intriguing and I felt it was an ‘experience’ reading the book than most books I’ve read recently.  While they never directly say that Oskar (the nine year old whose story is one of the main storylines of the book) is autistic, it is featured as a book for the Autism Awareness so I’m assuming that’s enough to go by.

I was intrigued by Oskar’s thought patterns and some of the descriptives used in the story. For example, Oskar describes situations or conversations that gives him “heavy boots” or “makes his boots lighter.”

Take the following quote from page 36 of the book: ‘The average person falls asleep in seven minutes, but I couldn’t sleep, not after hours, and it made my boots lighter to be around his things, and to touch stuff that he had touched…’

Another descriptive was ‘making my brain quiet’ meaning that he could stop worrying and thinking about things and simply relax:

‘I loved having a Dad who was smarter than the New York Times, and I loved how my cheek could feel the hairs on his chest through his T-shirt, and how he always smelled like shaving, even at the end of the day. Being with him made my brain quiet. I didn’t have to invent a thing.'(12)

One of the teachers at our kids school tells the kids that when too many of them are excited and talking that she can’t understand them because their words are ‘bumping together.’  I thought that was a great descriptive that I know my boys process and understand.

Image from film.com

Oskar also talks about emotions and there are instances in the book where he doesn’t necessarily understand why the other person is showing an emotion but based on the social cues and learned responses, he decides to show an emotion or act a certain way.  One such is when he and his mom get in a fight and he wishes that his mom had passed away instead of his dad.  Seeing that his words have hurt her, he makes a joke and smiles and assumes that it solves the situation.  The thought process he goes through was interesting since it is more of a learned response and something I hadn’t really thought about too much.

Overall, I did enjoy the book and thought it was a good read. There were parts of the story that I found to be too fictional and drawn together but I did enjoy the overall journey of the book and the incredible emotional journey that the characters take.  Good read!

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14 comments
  1. I watched the movie, have not read the book. One thing that stood out from the film for me was the way he used a rain stick. We have been using a smaller, home-made version for my Grandson when he is stressed. It seems to work. I sort of ‘over’ absorb anything that ‘feels’ like autism and might work to help different children. I just liked that one, so thought I’d mention it. Sounds like I need to free up some time and read the book too! Thanks for the blog!

    • I haven’t seen the movie either ~ kind of want to. My wife watched it with friends (all of who read the book) and I think my wife enjoyed the book better. However, one of my best friends went and this is his exact post from his Facebook, “I haven’t been able to stop crying for over an hour. I’ve run out of Kleenex and moved onto the toilet paper. #disclaimer_for_”Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close”

      The rain stick sounds great! I think I’d have to give my twins foam ones since they’ve started pushing each other behind my back. Ugh! Thanks for reading!

  2. Colleen Wunder said:

    I’m going to see if I can get that book on my Nook!
    Thanks for the suggestion

  3. I am obsessed with reading a book before seeing the movie and am bothered when the movie characters take over the ability for me to imagine them as I see them (it all started with The Firm, apparently I was traumatized by how much better the book was than the film). That said, this book sounds wonderful and I do want to see the movie. I will add it to my list and glad I read your post!

    • I agree – I’d much rather read the book before watching the movie. The book was great~ thanks for visiting and hope you enjoy it.

  4. aspiehaven said:

    I haven’t read the book, but I did see the movie. I had no idea what the plot was, beforehand, and was delighted to see an ASD character. The things he was saying…or maybe the way he was saying them…really were things I could connect with. A beautiful story.

  5. Def adding this to my reading list, thanks for the review!

  6. Cyn said:

    Thanks for the review…I’ve been intrigued about it especially since the movie had some controversial reviews centered around the main character. I just want to read and watch it even more.

    • You are welcome – thanks for visiting. Hope you like the movie – I’m excited to see it!

  7. Katie said:

    I’m adding this book to my spring break reading list! Thanks for the review.

    • It’s a fun read and interesting to see a writer attempt to portray how an autistic kid views things. Thx for the iPad recommendations! I need to get the boys playing more of those games and less Thomas videos. 🙂

  8. I had not heard of this movie until reading your post! Definitely will be adding it to my to read/to see list!

    • My wife said she enjoyed the book more but I had a friend that came out of the movie loving it and in tears so sounds like both are great! Hope you like it

  9. Aw, this was a really nice post. Finding the time and actual effort to create
    a superb article… but what can I say… I put things off a lot and never
    manage to get nearly anything done.

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