The main narrator of the story is a nine-year-old child, Oskar Schell, an intellectually curious and sensitive child, with an active, and sometimes crippling, imagination. His father had died two years earlier on 9/11. He is a pacifist, a vegan, musician (he plays the tambourine), academically-inclined, and above all, earnest. Oskar wanders New York, searching for the meaning of a strange key he finds inside a blue vase in his father's closet. Two additional narrators, Oskar's paternal grandparents, tell the story of their childhood, courtship, marriage, and separation before the birth of Oskar's father; much of their story is presented as a series of letters addressed to Oskar or his father.
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