Saturday, April 5, 2014

Everything is Illuminated {A Book Review}

Today's A-Z Letter: E is for.... 

Title : Everything is Illuminated
Author: Jonathan Safran Foer
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Release Date: September 3rd, 2013 (ebook)
Summary from GoodReads:

With only a yellowing photograph in hand, a young man - also named Jonathan Safran Foer - sets out to find the woman who might or might not have saved his grandfather from the Nazis. Accompanied by an old man haunted by memories of the war, an amorous dog named Sammy Davis, Junior, Junior, and the unforgettable Alex, a young Ukrainian translator who speaks in a sublimely butchered English, Jonathan is led on a quixotic journey over a devastated landscape and into an unexpected past.

As their adventure unfolds, Jonathan imagines the history of his grandfather's village, conjuring a magical fable of startling symmetries that unite generations across time. Lit by passion, fear, guilt, memory, and hope, the characters in Everything Is Illuminated mine the black holes of history. As the search moves back in time, the fantastical history moves forward, until reality collides with fiction in a heart-stopping scene of extraordinary power.

An arresting blend of high comedy and great tragedy, this is a story about searching for people and places that no longer exist, for the hidden truths that haunt every family, and for the delicate but necessary tales that link past and future. Exuberant and wise, hysterically funny and deeply moving, EVERYTHING IS ILLUMINATED is an astonishing debut

“This is love, she thought, isn't it? When you notice someone's absence and hate that absence more than anything? More, even, than you love his presence?” 

My Take:
Okay first I must tell you that the book contains adult language and content. 

But I think it is a great addition to the story. What I got from the book was a story of love in unconventional times, and an adventure to find something, someplace and someone to link between the past and the present. 

After his grandfather dies a couple years ago, Jonathan Safran Foer (the same name as the author but it is not an autobiography), sets out to Ukraine to find the woman who saved his grandfather, Safran, from the Nazis. Jonathan is accompanied by a Ukrainian translator, Alex and his grandfather that are hired as his tour guides to help him find the woman in one of his grandfather's photographs. 

He get the story of Jonathan's journey to find his grandfather's savior through Alex's perspective, as he is writing a book about their journey. 

But there is a parallel story being told throughout the book. Jonathan (the character) is writing this semi-biographical, semi-fictional book that starts with the life of his great-great-great-great-great grandmother Bron and ends with the invasion of the Nazi's in the town of Trachimbron and his grandfather's escape. Through the span of six generations we get stories of hurt, death, life, dreams, parenthood, marriage, passion, friendship, betrayal but most importantly Love and Memories. I think in this book Illumination means clarity and understanding of the past or at least trying to understand the past. Both Jonathan and Alex are finding new information about their family's history throughout their journey

It's a novel about a book about stories, told by letters exchanged by the characters. Confusing right? For me it took me a while to get it together in my mind, but once I did I was immersed in Bron's life and her experiences, and later in Safran's life. It left me wanting to know more about the stories and for the book to not end.

I love the way that Foer writes, I've read Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, and it was amazing. His style is different, and weird, and unique, and pretty amazing, and it all works perfectly together. 

Rating: 4 out of 5

What would you want to know most about your family's history? Have you ever read any Jonathan Safran Foer books?
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  1. I read this and loved it. And I have to say that I thought the movie was very well done and told in a fashion much like the book. Great choice!

  2. It was a great read!!! :)
    Really? I had no idea that it was a movie!!! I must check it out. :) Thank you. :)

  3. Wonderful review. I must get me a copy of his books.

    Coming over from that A-Z challenge.

    ~Naila Moon


I would love to hear your thoughts!! :)