Fiction is creating order out of chaos. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close gave a semblance of coherence in the mind of a mentally hyperactive kid named Oskar, who some noted is autistic and has Aspergers. His social encounters however, marked with a quirky personality, prove the contrary. Disclaimer here I'm not versed with the disorder to know the symptoms so take my word lightly.
As for the narrative, EL&IC's would make a good character driven movie. And its success would depend on a compelling character with palpable external adversaries - like poverty or bullying. Oskar however, faces none of these. He is deeply loved by those around him and only the murkiness of his understanding serves as the main adversary. Hence only on a novel this story belongs. Not for the screen, where a stronger and concrete antagonist is needed to drive the plot forward.
In the narrative however, the biggest tragedy impact has already transpired. It is the death of Oskar's father, who died in the September 11th in Twin Tower attack. EL & IC is merely a journey towards clarity and healing.
If EL & IC is based on a true story, like say, The Pursuit of Happyness, it would have touched my movie heart. Character emotions and motivations, as depicted through multiple perspectives in this novel is ineffectually lost in streams of random thoughts by Oskar and his grandparents.
On his grandparents, I understand that depression and fear can drive people to do unreasonable things, I just can't empathize with Oskar's grandparents' predicament from that reason alone, rash decisions out of desperation. It feels gimmicky. I'm more shocked at the tragedy that occurred at September 11th.
When it comes to taste, I guess non-fiction sad stories is more to my liking.