I enjoyed this book quite a lot - think I could cut around ten separate SOI scripts from its pages. The book is incredibly literate, poetic, bursting with ideas. That being said, it plays upon a couple of conceits that irritated me and kept me from giving it a fifth star. For one, Oscar is far too discerning at times - i.e., the author uses him as a vessel for his own adult considerations, rather than allowing for the limitations of an eleven-year-old narrator. The other thing is the complete lack of the mundane. Mundanity grounds a story, helps to set it in our world. But by the middle of the book, we realize that nothing ordinary will be allowed within the pages of this story - even the most minor of characters is granted irritatingly entrancing idiosyncrasies. There were some middle chapters where every line of description and dialogue moves in a stilted manner, and I thought, "Am I going to be able to survive this?" But fortunately, I found the momentum of the last third of the story helped to lift it above these issues. I have to admit that much of that forgiveness relates to my own personal feelings about the terrorist attacks on 9/11. On the other hand, I can understand how some feel that this book milks pity from us in the most cloying way related to these touchstone events. For me, though, I found truth in the aching grief of grandmother, grandfather, Oscar, his mother. This is what made the book real and good for me.