by Jonathan Safran Foer
Quick fire review
I love how colourful this cover is!
I was a little skeptical about whether or not this book would work for me given the subject seemed a little blah, but the author has managed to weave some darker humorous tones into the main character Jonathan.. Once you embark on this quirky and soulful journey, you won’t want to stop.
Jonathan is a Jewish college student searching Europe for the one person he believes can explain his roots. Alex, a lover of all things American and unsurpassed butcher of the English language, is his lovable Ukrainian guide. On their quixotic quest, the two young men look for Augustine, a woman who might have saved Jonathan’s grandfather from the Nazis. As past and present merge, hysterically funny moments collide with episodes of great tragedy–and an unforgettable story of one family’s extraordinary history unfolds.
This book was given to me by a dear friend and my soul sister. It is still one of her favourite books and I’m happy to say that I enjoyed it just as much.
“It was not the feeling of completeness I so needed, but the feeling of not being empty.”
Who is Augustine?
Everything Is Illuminated (fantastic title!) follows Jonathan who has ventured to Ukraine to find the woman who had rescued his Grandfather from Nazis over fifty years ago. When he gets to his destination, he is met by his translator Alex along with his dog and grandfather, all of whom join Jonathan on his journey.
There is a lot of humour and heart at the core of this story and the author has weaved these two elements seamlessly throughout the Jonathan’s and his grandfather’s stories. There are some interesting characters scattered throughout this story that are both intriguing and heartbreaking. I thought Jonathan was a great main character and found the parts of the story narrated by him to be the most well rounded and exciting.
“One day you will do things for me that you hate. That is what it means to be family.”
I will say that I see why a lot of people didn’t enjoy this or abandoned it half way. I wasn’t so keen on it myself in the beginning but once I pushed through and learnt more about Jonathan, his quest and his family, I couldn’t help but be hooked on this little book. There are many alternating POVs and the break in narrative style is something that I found both interesting and frustrating. Overall I think this added to the story and certainly allowed Jonathan’s journey and his grandfather’s story to build simultaneously.
Also if you don’t think the book is for you or you find the narrative a little too complex, maybe check out the movie. I haven’t seen it myself but I’ve heard Elijah Wood is amazing.
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