Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Froer, is a story about a boy who deals with family tragedy in a unique way. Oscar Schell loses his father in the World Trade Center collapse. He discovers a memento that turns his pain of loss into a beautifully written story. Finding a key in a box marked only with the word “Black,” Oscar goes on a quest to find what the key will open. He meets interesting characters along the way and uses his quirky personality to weave a journey of hope for a child who given the circumstances, should be utterly heartbroken and completely lost. Tied in with Oscar’s epic journey is the story of his grandfather who survived the bombing of Dresden in WWII. The result is a balance between the three men’s lives represented, and an honest account of love in the wake of tragedy.
If you liked Oscar’s story, check out these Indies…
Balcony View: A 9-11 Diary by Julia Frey, explores the aftermath of the World Trade attacks. Julia and her husband Ron live in a building directly across from Ground Zero. They are literally standing in the window as the first plane hits, watching chaos unfold. Ron is disabled, and the couple immediately wonders if they should even try to flee. Eventually they are evacuated, and Julia tells her story of what happens next. Living in Battery Park City at the most devastating time in NYC history, Julia is inundated with anxiety, illness and a close up look at death on a daily basis. Not only is the journey towards acceptance and recovery a terribly unbalanced, uphill battle, there is also a love triangle. Julia is in love with Malcolm, a man who lives abroad. Yet she loves her husband Ron too, and can’t abandon him—especially now. Will she stay or will she go? Will Julia and Ron be saved from the insanity that is Post 9-11 New York, or will they stay because it’s home? Readers get a Balcony View of what’s next, and this one is a stunner.
Come Back to Me by Melissa Foster, is a five star Indie that revolves around Tess Johnson and her husband Beau. Tess thinks Beau is dead, killed in a helicopter crash over the Iraqi desert while on a photography assignment. She laments her decision to withhold the joyful news of her pregnancy until his return. Tess also vows in her heart to never give up believing that Beau will come back to her. Beau is found in the desert by two women fleeing honor killings. He is nursed back to health by the women in a makeshift shelter and forms a tight bond with them. Can Beau, Suha and Samira escape Iraq with their lives and families intact? Will Tess give up on Beau and fall for a new suitor? What will happen if Tess moves on and Beau comes back? There’s a reason why Come Back to Me was voted one of the “Top Five Must Reads” in 2011 by Indie Reader.
Paint Stop Boom by Anna Sarelas is an enigmatic puzzle that leaves pieces everywhere and then attaches them to one another in an amazingly original fashion. There are bombings in Sydney and it seems that paintings are saving people’s lives: literally. Anais is an artist who survived a bombing as a child; losing her grandfather in the process. Michael is a man who lost his mom and sisters in a recent bombing. When their lives intersect, it can only be described as art itself. Michael is lost without his family until he meets David, and falls in with a group of people who seem to act as a shield at these bomb attacks. It is Anais’ paintings that are being stolen and placed on the bombs, and she is exasperated as one by one they all disappear leaving only fragments of color on sidewalks. The Venice Biennale is approaching and she needs a piece for submission. Can Anias paint one more work of art and save it from being stolen? Terror attacks are planned and David and Michael know when and where they will happen. Will they get Anais’ painting before the competition? In a web of surrealist narration, Anais and Michael cross paths again and again, but will they stay on the same road and both stay alive? The narrative moves just as the title foreshadows: Paint. Stop. Boom.
One More River by Mary Glickman was a 2011 National Jewish Book Award Finalist in Fiction. It is the story of Mickey Moe, who was only four when his father, Bernard Levy was killed in World War II. It is now 1962, and Mickey Moe wants to get married. His girlfriend’s parents don’t approve, so he tries to uncover his father’s past in order to prove himself. In a time when civil rights are on the forefront of everything, Mickey Moe searches for answers about his father. Bernard traveled the Mississippi and survived the Great Flood of 1927. As Mickey Moe travels deep into the backwoods of Tennessee, he not only discovers life-changing revelations about his father, but faces the worst kind of adversity. Mickey Moe discovers that Bernard led a life of honor through tragedy, and was a hero despite immense obstacles. A follow-up to Glickman’s bestselling Home in the Morning, One More River is the tale of a father and son, each fighting the world in his own way, but standing tall and facing life head on in the name of love.
These Indies pluck the heart-strings of those who enjoy familial discoveries, reach out to those who relate to loss on a personal level…or at least make us find a new way of looking at it, and of course, just like Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, they show us that we are not the only ones who think the world is a messed up place to live, but press on boldly in search of its meaning.