Jonathan Safran Foer was born in Washington, D.C. in 1977 to a Jewish family of four (*****). He grew up an adventurous child, getting involved in a painful chemistry accident at the age of 8. This accident, which injured not only him but many other students as well, led to a period of mental restructuring. Foer determined who he really wanted to be, and began to shape himself in that direction. He attended Princeton University, graduating with a philosophy degree. He grew up in a close Jewish family with his younger brother Joshua and older brother Franklin. All three brothers are writers, each specializing in a different field. His mother Esther Safran Foer is a leader of a large Jewish synagogue, while his father Albert Foer is a lawyer. His grandparents — specifically his mother’s parents — are holocaust survivors, providing him with solid details and concrete information on WWII and the events within the war. There were many contemporary influences on this novel, the most obvious being the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001. These acts of terrorism reshaped New York, America, and the culture of the world. The tragedy, acknowledged and respected all across the globe, made a deep and lasting impression on all New Yorkers and Americans. This malicious attack has permanently transformed modern American society, a topic explored in Foer’s novel. The novel was originally a combination of many different writings from Safran’s earlier days as a writer. One element of the narrative comes from Foer’s written responses to the horrible chemistry accident he experienced in his youth. This accident, which he described as “extremely loud and incredibly close,” impacted him heavily, motivating him to include that aspect of himself within his novel. Another component of the novel from an outside source is Foer’s short fiction piece “The Sixth Borough.” He masterfully intertwines this short story into his larger novel, veiling it as a bedtime story told to Oskar by his father. His personal connection to the novel establishes a deeper connection between the speaker and the reader, as the experiences are told from a real, true perspective. The initial critical response to this novel was one of negativity and dismissal. Many critics believed it was too early to begin writing about 9/11; some believed it was merely too basic a plotline with too flat of characters; still others thought the plot was too artificial, so as to provoke a positive reaction. Overall, most of the critics seemed to agree on one point: this book was not natural. While critical response was not favorable, the novel did perform better with the general public, earning an average of four out of five stars. Ultimately, while not Foer’s greatest success, his bold and personal book discussing the fallout of 9/11 stirred up the public as they judged and rejudged his acclaim as a writer.