Jonathan Safran Foer – Here I Am

Expectations before reading

Blurb:

“Jacob and Julia have a problem… several problems in fact.
While they’ve been coaxing Jacob’s grandfather into a retirement home, bracing themselves for a family reunion and struggling to keep their eldest son from being expelled, a discovery is made that risks destroying their marriage.
As domestic crisis multiply in the foreground, a global disaster is looming on the horizon. The Bloch family is collapsing and so is the Middle East, where a catastrophic earthquake sets in motion a quickly escalating conflict – and every man, woman and child must decide where they will stand.”

Underneath it says the following about this book:

“Here I am marks an ambitious new departure for Jonathan Safran Foer, achieving extraordinary scope and emotional resonance while maintaining the trademark inventiveness and irreverence of his much-loved previous novels. Confronting the enduring question of what it means to be human, Here I Am is a great American novel for our times, a masterpiece about how we live now.”

The back of the book has some printed praise, not for this book though but for Jonathan Safran Foer’s novels Everything is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. You should definitely read those two novels, they are great!!

So.. what do I expect? I am not really sure. The blurb does not sound especially exciting. But having read two other novels by this author I still expect a very great story. I expect a critical story that makes you question and think about your life, your behavior and mankind itself. I expect a very unique way of storytelling. I am very much looking forward to reading this book.

The Book

2,8 Stars

 

This book is really hard to review for me. Partly because I didn’t always understand what was going on. And that was not due to the language. It was just confusing. At least for me. I mean.. I know that Jonathan Safran Foer’s books are somewhat.. different. But this.. yeah. Hard to explain.

This review may be a bit different. Because there is so much going on (and at the same time not really much at all) in this book. It is hard to write about it without giving away too much of the plot. It is also kind of hard to explain my feelings about this book. I hope my review makes any sense.

 

Plot ★★★

This book is long. Really long. The story is sometimes confusing, sometimes frustrating, depressing, sometimes somewhat good. And really sad. I’d say this book is about life. Everyday life. It is quite realistic. Those long dialogues. Even though they start to annoy you because they are often leading nowhere. It also makes you think about your own life. Your actions. Where are you? What are you doing? Who are you? And are you happy? In my opinion this book is about happiness. I have also read somewhere that it is about Jewishness. It is also I guess. But I’d rather say it is about identity.

And I really really disliked those constant arguments.

 

Characters ★★★

The characters are somewhat those “normal people” you meet on a street. But then again they’re not. They are not those stereotypes. They are.. let’s call it realistic. You can find yourself in them and in their actions. But still you don’t really want to identify with them because the author also describes all their flaws. His characters are not perfect. Which is not a bad thing really. But I didn’t fully like any of them. And I kind of like to like at least one character in a book. I was able to identify with parts of them though.

 

Setting ★★★

Set in the US in today’s time. Realistic. You get to see the power of news. You get to see a somewhat critical way of how we life in this world full of technology and virtual life things. I can’t really call it games but I don’t know what else I could call it. Holding up traditions in a modern world. Does it work? How? It is quite realistic.

 

Style ★★

I knew before I started this book that the author’s style is somewhat peculiar. And that it might confuse me. But in the other books I liked his style even though it confused me at times. Here it confused me and gave me hard times following the storyline. At least sometimes. Sometimes there was an explanation. Many pages later. Somehow all of this got better. But only when the book was almost over.

 

Opinion after reading

I don’t know about this one… Looking back I kind of liked it. But while reading it I didn’t really like it. This book gave me a really hard time. I never give up on a book but I almost did on this one. It was partly confusing, I often found myself thinking “what is actually going on?”. It was also sad. Really really sad. And kind of frustrating. This book kind of gives you the idea that when you marry your life kind of ends. Or becomes not really your life anymore. That life is about pretending. It is kind of hard to explain. But – in the very end the book was almost good. I am not entirely sure when it started. Probably on the last 100 pages (of almost 600…). But that was the point when I actually started to kind of like the book. A bit.

It does have a message. Or more than one. It does make you think about your own life. Your actions. I guess if you have someone to discuss this book with it would be a really good discussion. But still. It is kind of exhausting to read 500 pages just to get to the good part.

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