As expected after having read about the movie and seeing previews of the movie, the book was about Oskar Schell a 9 year old boy whose father died in the 911 events. Oskar is not your typical child nor is he a typical boy. Quirky and unique Oskar deals with his father's death in a very unexpected manner.
Because of the closeness Oskar had with his father and the very original activities they shared, Oskar is lead into a truly odd way of dealing with his father's death. Oskar finds a vase in his father's closet with a small envelope with an unusual key in it. On the envelope it says "Black". Because he and his father have done similar things when his Dad was alive Oskar determines that this is his father's way of telling him something and now he just has to figure out what the key goes to in order to know what his father wanted to tell him. So we are off to the races as Oskar with his great intellect and original creativity seeks to find his father's meaning. The story is really great. It is a real testament to how close and influential a father son relationship can be.
However, there is an additional story that is woven through the book. Oskar's grandparents have a unique story of their own. Oskar doesn't know his grandfather and has never met him. But the story of his grandparents marriage and relationship is told very open with sometimes too much detail.
This second story serves as a counter point to show how hurtful a father's relationship can be as well--only this story is told from the father's relationship. How emotionally harmed he is because of his poor choices with his son.
The point seems to be that father's and son's desperately need the relationship with each other to have a meaningful existence. Two other much shorter father-son stories are in the book as well. One positive and one negative. The author shares his point again that father's need their sons and sons need their fathers.
The book left me a bit confused about whether I liked it or not. There were parts that I found objectionable balanced by parts that I found very affirming of good. Once again the balance, maybe intended by the author, forcing, I think, the reader to determine the meaning of the book. Most likely each reader's determination of the meaning will be determined by their own relationship with their father, and that unwritten relationship influencing the reader will ultimately determine what the reader gains from the book.
There is a part in the movie's story that really touched me however and continued this theme of father son relationships from the book Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.
After losing their first three games miserably, the team ends up making it to the state finals through a variety of miracles. As you might guess the game comes down to needing a field goal with 2 seconds left for the win. The first string kicker is hurt during the game and so it is up to the young man with weak confidence. But there is a problem. A 51 yard field goal is needed and this young man has never hit one from that distance. His longest field goal even in practice has been only 39 yards. The coach encourages him but the young man tells the coach that he can't do it. The coach sends him to the field anyways and the boy lines up to kick. He is shaking his head as he lines up because he knows he cannot do what is required. His coach sees the boys utter lack of confidence and wishes he could call a time out to encourage him more but they have used all their time outs. The father calls the boys name to do his normal encouraging symbol but the boy refuses to look because he is so utterly sure he cannot do it that he will not allow himself to receive any encouragement.
The kicker now will give it his all after the strong words of encouragement from his coach and his father who has done a hard thing to encourage his son. The ball is hiked and he steps to the ball to kick it with all that he has. He kicks the ball so hard that the motion pulls his left leg out from under him and he ends up on his back. Yes the ball splits the uprights and the game it won. Good prevails one more time.
So what is it about fathers and sons and the profound relationship of love and encouragement that they have between the two of them. What is it about the son who listens, trusts and honors his father that makes the Father want to be a better man? What is it about the father who loves, respects and encourages his son that makes the son want to do his best and be just like his Dad? This relationship has the potential to really determine the path of both of them.
Here is a trailer from the movie Facing the Giants:
Here is the part of the movie that I've described above. Little does the coach know that God wasn't done with him for that day. Watch the movie to get the rest of the story!