A review by rachattack
Here I Am, by Jonathan Safran Foer


Oh man. I could say so many things about this book. Everything Is Illuminated is my favorite book of all time, so I was pretty invested in loving Here I Am. I'm also thirsty for books about Jewish-American identity, so I should have loved it - but I didn't. The main thing that threw me off about this book was the sheer number of words - 571 pages of character descriptions and time-hopping. It felt very unfocused, like Foer just put every thought he had down on the page, which I couldn't stand. I kept asking myself why any given scene was put in the book, and I came up empty for probably half of them.

I loved the writing, which is the main thing I've always loved about Foer's books. It's sharp and smart and beautiful. Undeniably, there were sentences that I straight up didn't understand, either because they were just too twisted or because they were SO deep that they would require years of study to make sense of. But there were also sentences that resonated with me distinctly, that left me wondering how anyone could understand the world that clearly and well.

For such a long book, it wasn't hard to get through. The "destruction of Israel" montage was when the book really sped up for me and moved beyond character sketches. That said, I was continuously unable to stand Jacob, which really made it hard to read. He felt like a character created solely for self-hatred.

All-in-all, I would 100% recommend reading this book. It's starkly beautiful and it made me think about faith and life and family in ways I hadn't before. Just be prepared for a long haul.