Everything Is Illuminated

Everything Is Illuminated

by Jonathan Safran Foer
3.9 208


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Everything Is Illuminated 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 208 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Once in a great while, a book comes along that changes the way you look at everything: the world, love, hate, relationships, politics. Such is the case with EVERYTHING IS ILLUMINATED. Now, not everyone is going to warm to this novel, but keep reading: 'Everything is Illuminated' is the story of a young American (also with the name Jonathan Safran Foer, but this is a work of fiction) who travels to Ukraine to find the woman who saved his grandfather from the holocaust. In the process the book tells several stories: the American's trip to the Ukraine, the story of his grandfather and the town history, his Ukrainian translator's personal struggles with family and identity, and his Ukrainian translator's grandfathers experience during the war. These stories are told in different voices, in different chapters interspersed throughout the book. Some of these work better than others, as Foer seems to have a desire to stretch into literary gimmicks that are not always neccesary. But when he gets it right the passages are as moving as anything I have ever read. His variety of voices allows a reflection on certain elements of the story that reinforces their meaning. Writing about love, personal history, death, and living on allows ample opportunity to take on issues that go to the heart of what it means to be human. It also creates the possibility of falling into a bottomless pit of reflection, over-analysis, and huge failure. This book flirts with those pitfalls at times, but never falls in. It creates scenes of incredible trauma, and manages to tell the story in a way that seems real (a significant achievement for a writer born in 1977). I am struggling to even describe the book, which speaks the complexity of the story and the skill in telling it. I am sure that my enjoyment of the book was enhanced by witnessing first hand some of the absurdity of life in Ukraine, but that is only part of the story. This is a riveting book, often spoken of in the same breath as 'Bark of the Dogwood' with its odd cast of characters. A perfect companion to this book, BARK OF THE DOGWOOD, while completely different subject material, is nevertheless as entertaining. Both are great reads all 'round, but EVERYTHING IS ILLUMINATED is like nothing else on the planet.
57pop More than 1 year ago
This is the best book that I have ever read. No one can pull of the beauty of the context. It's deeply felt and imagined. Whoever says they didn't like the ending, they didn't understand. I recommend this to anyone and everyone willing to see things in a new light.
De_Malkuth More than 1 year ago
Everything Is Illuminated gives a deep and intimate glimpse into the tragedy and triumph of the human spirit, well infused with humor. Each character is so richly developed and unveiled in complex layers that you feel like you know them, and laugh at their personality quirks and shed tears when they hurt. As someone who's family is from the Ukraine, and who's grandparents were of an age of some of the characters, it really hit home for me, and gave me profound insight into the strength it must have taken to love and leave behind friends and family to come to the United States.
seesnapefly More than 1 year ago
One of the most original books I've ever read. The writing is ingenius and the story is hauntingly beautiful.
Ciao-Bella More than 1 year ago
While other reviewers gave this a big thumbs up, I was tremendously disappointed with the whole experience. I found it very difficult to follow the story line as it jumped around in flashbacks and even in mid-conversation. Characters were not likeable or very interesting. I finished it because I believe in making a judgement on the whole experience. Normally I seek out books that deal with this subject, but I cannot in all good conscience recommend this to anyone.
Elroy84 More than 1 year ago
What a read. The way Foer handles the dialogue is amazing. His brilliant use of malapropisms to characterize and his incredibly funny lines would make this book a success alone. the story is not all humor though. It is a serious tale of discovery and friendship with a terrible tragedy brooding in the background.
JEB50 More than 1 year ago
Our book club chose the book and planned to watch the movie at the next meeting after we had all read the book. What fun! The movie actually made some scenes in the book make more sense, but the endings were different. Both were somewhat confusing but we really enjoyed discussing what we had read while watching the movie, and having parts we had forgotten enacted before us. We plan to do this pairing again in the future. As for the book, I really enjoyed the clever language usage of the translator, Borat-style. The author showed great imagination and skill in bringing the reader from a somewhat farcical, humorous beginning to serious happenings in the history of the "blind" grandfather driver. Good read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It is difficult to comprehend the feeding frenzy surrounding this mediocre first novel. Mr. Safran Foer scores most of his points off a glaringly inaccurate portrayal of Ukrainian English. Unfortunately, he did no research (which he admits in interviews, supposedly to free him to be more inventive)so it is basically just a Mad-lib exercise, only condescending to an entire ethnicity. While good fiction doesn't necessarily need to be exhaustively researched, Mr. Safran Foer's laziness hurts the work in many places. Anachronisms are omnipresent, whether it is 18th century shtetl characters having a bathtub, or the fact that they have placed sandpaper on the floor of the bathtub to reduce slipping. Just pages later, the reader is informed that the 1940s inhabitants of the shtetl bathe only once or twice yearly. Whither the bathtubs, Mr. Safran Foer? Apparently, Shtetl swingsets were also in fashion in past centuries. When Mr. Safran Foer's apologists argue that all these anachronisms are simply the creation of the book character Safran Foer, imagining his roots, the intelligent reader will rightly question why one should care to read the uninformed, unresearched 25-year-old musings of an overprivileged kid with interesting parents. Save yourself the money, and read a book that actually has something to say.
Kahern More than 1 year ago
In this novel, Jonathan Safran Foer follows the journey of a young man, also named Jonathan Safran Foer, who, with the help of a Ukrainian translator, tries to find the woman who saved his grandfather's life. Foer uses magical realism to delve into Jewish history. He blends the line between fiction and nonfiction through captivating, quirky characters you're guaranteed to fall in love with, and he presents them with an original voice. Foer offers a fresh new style and is possibly one of the best modern writers out there. This book offers a fresh and innovative writing style that will truly blow your mind. I highly recommend this to anyone who is looking for a novel that will change your life.
Larry99 More than 1 year ago
Life is better when we know what is really going on. That doesn't mean that we are happier or that finding out the truth is painless.
Zoey_Payne More than 1 year ago
This book isn't for everyone but if you are in the mood for something thats different and yet so familiar, then I highly recomend this book. I love the way Foer writes, it makes me want to not just read more of the book but to ask questions to find out more and more about everything.
readingrobyne More than 1 year ago
What a weird, hilarious and heartbreaking story. I loved this book. I've never read anything quite like it. I couldn't put it down. Good work!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This ingenious novel quickly jumped to my top five favorite novels for a few reasons: the mastery of the journey/mock epic form; Mr. Foer's ability to write in two distinct yet believable voices; and also his delightful humor and ability to write phrases that made me laugh out loud and sigh audibly. To not give away any of the story, I will stop here. But check it out!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I LOVE this book!!! I could go on and on about how funny it is, and how tragic, and how wise, and how completely unique. It made me laugh out loud, and then cry. You have to read it for yourself!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Everything Is Illuminated has one of the funniest and most endearing characters I have ever read in Alex, the Ukranian translator. Alex made me laugh and made me think at the same time. The book asks the reader the question of what he would do if faced with a choice between ideals and loved ones. I know I found myself surprised at what my answer would probably be. This is a story that forces the reader to look at himself and not just the story being told and that is what some of the best books do.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Was expecting something great, like Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, but very disappointed. Interesting concept, but too elongated and content and style not to my liking.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There are very few books that I cannot get through and this was one of them. I started and stopped 3 times trying to finish. I almost made, but figured why bother. When recreation reading becomes a chore, it isn't worth it. I didn't warm to any of the characters or writing style. Looks like most enjoyed. Good luck and good reading to others who try.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I would NOT recommend this book to anyone! It was so bad, I deleted it from my NOOK even though I had paid for it! I'm an avid reader and often read my books over and over....as for this one, I am sorry I ever read it even ONCE! Don't waste your MONEY or your TIME!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I wish the books we had to read back in college lit classes were as innovative and thought provoking as this one. I find myself raving about it to anyone and everyone that mentions reading. I would have actually enjoyed writing a paper about this novel, especially Jonathan Safran Foer's amazing ability to make you feel emotionally attached to his characters, even the dog. Unlike many empty, unoriginal, coma-inducing books published these days, this novel is one of substance. It will stick to your soul and keep you satisfied long after you've turned the last page and bought a copy for every one of your friends and coworkers. Enjoy!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The beauty in this book is truly incomprehendable. The journey is sad, yet touching and at times quite comical. However, what made this book the best book I have ever read is the story within the story that Foer writes. The tradgedy of Brod's life, along with the internal conflicts Foer's grandfather faces in his sexuality and desire to be with the ones he cannot all add to the true and raw emotions we all have. Foer does not sugar coat the events that occur but rather sheds light on what we, as humans, truly feel. I could go on forever about how this book has forever illuminated my life, but I feel it can only be discovered by reading it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
JSF is brilliant. I cant comprehend how he manages to put so much beauty into his writing. Unbelievable.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Such an itneresting format
jbehrens More than 1 year ago
While I enjoyed Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close much more, it would be misleading to compare the two as they are apples and oranges. The writing style is the biggest hurdle to overcime when starting and the numerous plot lines can be puzzling, even infuriating at times. I'm not sure if the book cut off early in the NOOK version, but the ending left me a but infuriated. The formatting of this ebook was different and I am going to make it a point to see if the physical book is formattted in the same way - portions of the text didn't read as well because of the awkward structure, but that is Foer's style for you! Al in all, it was a good, insightful read.
Eclectic_Lynn More than 1 year ago
the book is written in a bizarre format and hard to follow -- I ended up skippin dialogue. I had seen the film which was good and I figured this might be more rich --- couldnt have been more wrong. it was similar to the film -- but all over the place and hard to follow.. basicaly I hated it
Aerin-Allyse Winfery More than 1 year ago
Must read.