A long time ago someone recommended this book to me. She said, “when you read it, I want to talk about it with you.” I must confess, it has taken me some time to get to it, but Laura, I’m ready to talk now. This book is so unusual and creative. It is an extremely good story and incredibly unique. It is funny and sad and moving and innovative. It is an adventure story but also tackles the tough stuff like the problem of pain in our lives and the ways in which we deal with that. The book has lots of pictures, and I love picture books.
Oskar is nine years old and autistic. After his father is killed in the World Trade Center, Oskar finds a key in his father’s closet and embarks on a quest to discover the lock which fits this mysterious key. Oskar is extremely smart and incredibly brave. He is an inventor and his imagination is unstoppable. It is so much fun to dwell alongside the quirky thoughts in his head as he travels around NYC. The author must have enjoyed inventing the unusual effects in his book. I’m not even sure I’ve figured them all out, so I’m glad I can ask him myself when I attend a writers’ conference in April. What has me stumped are the six doorknob pictures and their exact significance. It feels like a riddle of my own to solve. Please comment if you’ve read the book and have it figured out.
One important thing to know is that there are two story lines in addition to Oskar’s. The chapters entitled “Why I’m Not Where You Are” are letters written by Thomas’ father explaining his reasons for returning to Germany before Thomas was born. The chapters entitled “My Feelings” are a letter from Oskar’s grandmother, explaining some things in her life.
Here is the trailer for the movie starring Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock. Although I haven’t seen the movie yet, I have a sense that some of the literary techniques will be lost in the movie as well as the opportunity to enter Oskar’s head. But it’s still a cracking good story either way.