Here I Am – a review

Here I Am

Author: Jonathan Safran Foer

John Updike.  Philip Roth.  Peter Taylor.  Alice Munro.  Jonathan Safran Foer

Writers who gift us with families who thrum within their own family universe, then bounce back to us like an echo.

I adore Jonathan Foer.  Eating Animals enchanted and mesmerized me.

Timeframe:  One month.  Location:  Washington D.C., Israel Characters: The Bloch family, Jacob, Julia, Sam, Max, Benjy and the Israeli cousin, Tamir, Irv, the granda, Deborah, the grandma, Isaac he great grandfather.

The Bloch family is in crisis.  Sam is not wanting his bar mitzvah.  Julia has just found a phone with pornographic sexting on it to some other woman.  The phone is Jacob’s.  Isaac has died and wanted to be buried in Israel.  Israel has just suffered two major earthquakes and the surrounding Middle East countries are attacking while it is in danger of falling.  Tamir, Jacob’s Israeli cousin is visiting for the bar mitzvah and his family is stuck back in Israel, with his son Noah fighting.  American Jews are being asked to fly to Israel on emergency flights (the only flights leaving for Israel) and Jacob is going to help save Israel.  Until he isn’t anymore.  All systems are on crash.

Jacob finds himself with three questions. 

  • Would you sacrifice yourself for your homeland?
  • Would you sacrifice yourself for your marriage?
  • Would you sacrifice yourself for your children?

As Jacob finds himself in the midst of his own existential crisis of enormous proportions, Julia tries to find herself within the parameters of the marriage with Jacob’s indecisiveness and inability to express emotions.  Sam, Max and Benjy all have their own opinions as they watch their parents’ crash and burn.

As Foer tramples stereotypes, he conjures a family so real that we ca touch them, as Jacob deals with everything simultaneously by not dealing with them.

Foer is genius.  I Am Here, reminiscent of some of the best writing we have on families, tsunamis its readers into a novel so tensile and perfect with it tautness that it compels us to rank I Am Here as one of the best.

And in Jacob’s weaknesses and failures, in Julia’s wonderment and discernment as she watches her family disintegrate, we find the Bloch family’s strength, as this profoundly funny and sympathetic novel reveals the fractures in all marriages, as Jacob seeks identity, family, and the round peg in a square holeness that we all experience in today’s fractured world.  Superb.

  • We received a copy of this book for review.
  • Here I Am is available on Amazon.com

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