I didn’t think Everything Is Illuminated was the best novel ever. Surely it wasn’t as good as all of the hype around it (of which I waited for it to die down to read it). The characters weren’t particularly compelling. Something about it spoke to me, so I read Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. I liked this one better. I think I just like the coming of age style adventure novel. It spoke to the younger side in me.
I waited, and looked forward, for this (Here I Am) for a long time. Between reading Foer’s earlier novels and now I have gained a strong affection for Jewish authors (I, myself, being Jewish) particularly Nathan Englander. This was always going to be more important to me than his earlier novels just for that fact.
Here I Am, for me, obviously, was, first and foremost, honest. What spoke to me was all of the conversations felt like something that another author might desire to make more flowery or hide some of the more gruesome details. These conversations usually pertained to a crumbling marriage. Not always (some were about war and duty as a Jewish person to protect the future of Judaism) but more often than not. The conversations were raw, real, and left nothing to the imagination (sometimes to the potential discomfort of the reader).
The story jumps around between a few different character but this is mostly Jacob’s story. He struggles with his religion, his fatherhood (feeling like the lesser parent), and later his duty as a Jew.
The last half deals with a war in Israel, the dissolution of Jacob and Julia’s marriage, and some time jumps to illustrate how Jacob manages in the future.
Overall, it was worth the wait for a new Jonathan Safran Foer novel, I just hope we don’t have to wait as long for the next one.