*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
Title: Here I Am
Author: Jonathan Safran Foer
Publisher: Hamish Hamilton Canada
Publication Date: September 6, 2016
Synopsis from Goodreads:
How do we fulfill our conflicting duties as father, husband, and son; wife and mother; child and adult? Jew and American? How can we claim our own identities when our lives are linked so closely to others’? These are the questions at the heart of Jonathan Safran Foer’s first novel in eleven years–a work of extraordinary scope and heartbreaking intimacy. Unfolding over four tumultuous weeks in present-day Washington D.C., Here I Am is the story of a fracturing family in a moment of crisis. As Jacob and Julia and their three sons are forced to confront the distances between the lives they think they want and the lives they are living, a catastrophic earthquake sets in motion a spiraling conflict in the Middle East. At stake is the very meaning of home–and the fundamental question of how much life one can bear.
What an emotional rollercoaster of a novel. Foer has always been one of my favourite authors. I was a bit hesitant about this novel. I’ve never really read a story quite like this before, however I was pleasantly surprised. This novel is moving, charged, and wrought with tension. It’s tragic, showing both the thoughts and motivations behind each characters, particularly husband and wife, Jacob and Julia, but also the decision they make, whether to following their instincts and shy away. Characters resist their impulses, driving more and more distance between themselves and the ones they love. Amid their personal issues, the world quite literally is falling apart. This American Jewish family must watch as Isreal falls victim to natural disaster and then political threat.
This novel was sad, but incredibly moving. It’s thought provoking and really hits the tough questions about marriage, family, love, friendship, extramarital affairs, and so much more. Nothing about these characters’ lives is easy. Jacob and Julia have 3 children, the oldest of whom is approaching manhood quickly. He’s learning to understand himself and his connections with others, both familial and romantic.
I found a few things to be unnecessarily explicit, which for me, unless it has a purpose, is completely extraneous. This felt like a tool meant more to shock than anything else and really did little to drive the plot. The graphic nature of the text messages help to convey the shock and pain that rocks the couple to the core, but it also goes too far in some instances in my personal opinion. If it doesn’t move the story forward, it’s not a necessity.
However, overall, it’s a witty, exciting, intelligent dialogue on family relationships. Foer’s style of writing is forever changing, keeping the experience of consuming his story very interesting. He keeps his reader engaged. He’s consistent and presents his story in an incredibly strong way. He subverts expectation in ways that are surprising and thoroughly enjoyable. Here I Am will not disappoint.