I don't know where to begin with this one. Maybe here: I love it!
It all started when I made a list of the movies the four Hobbits and Legolas (that being Elijah Wood, Dominic Monaghan, Billy Boyd, Sean Astin and Orlando Bloom) stared in after The Lord of the Rings.
Some time later I was in a multimedia shop and there the DVDs were marked down. I went looking of course. And found the movie "Everything is Illuminated" for about 5€. OK so far. I didn't know anything about this one, exept that the cover was Elijah nerdy looking, standing in a field of sunflowers.
Brought it home, watched it, loved it. My mom said "It's so typical of you to like a strange movie like this. With so many layers of meaning and so much to think about."
Well, the book is the same.
The story is about a young man (Jonathan Safran Foer) in search of the woman that saved his grandfather's life in WWII. He's an American Jew and traveling to the Ukraine to find her. He hires a Heritage Tour Guide (Alex, about the same age - the surname beats me right now - and his "blind" grandfather, who's driver. Ah. Not to forget the Officious Seeing Eye Bitch. A dog named Sammy Davis Jr. Jr.)
The book alternates between letters from Alex to Jonathan, Alex's "travelogue" and the history of Jonathan's ancestors (this part is a bit strange, so I won't talk about it here).
Alex's use of words is funny and rather tragic at times. Over the course of the story you learn that Jonathan told him to use a Thesaurus to broaden his vocabulary. And he does. All the time. Like "It was hard to climb the steps" (I'm making that up here), he'd say "It was rigid to climb the steps". As I said, this sometimes effects greatly what he’s talking about and I was close to tears not only once.
Alex first tries to give off the impression that he’s this very cool person from this very cool city, Odessa. Both nothing short of any cool guy and city in America. But by and by you see that not all is cool in his world and that Jonathan seems to have had some impact on his way of thinking about his life. And I was surprised sometimes (though I really shouldn’t have been) by the depth of some of his thoughts.
I haven’t mentioned Grandfather. And I won’t, because I don’t want to give anything away.
Rent or buy? Buy!