The primary theme of the book is self reflection of traumatic experiences prompts growth in character.  Throughout the book, Oskar reflects on the death of his father and becomes more mature and express his feelings with his mother by understanding to accept the situation that happened and keep growing as a family. Each character Oskar interacts with is able to grow past their prior struggles.

Because of this, Grandpa doesn’t begin to mentally or emotionally recover from the event until meeting Grandma again years later, who he is able to communicate with and share a mutual understanding with of each other’s traumas. The secondary theme of the book is how lack of communication makes it hard to deal with trauma. Oskar struggles with the death of his father, yet does not communicate his pain to his family . Both Oskar’s grandpa and grandma write about their trauma and guilt instead of verbally expressing it. Oskar’s grandfather, during the end of the book regrets that he wasn’t with his wife, Oskar’s father, or Oskar.

He is full of shame and sadness because of this, “What kind of food did you like, what was your favourite song, who was the first girl you kissed, and where, and how, I’m running out of room, I want an infinitely long blank book and forever, I don’t know how much time passed, it didn’t matter, I’d lost all of my reasons to keep track.” (p.280) He is filled with sadness that he didn’t spend time with his family and was unable to be there for the important moments in their life and how they developed. Oskar’s mom deals with communication problems as well. When she allows Oskar to go out every night without questioning him, it leads Oskar to believe that she doesn’t care about him.

“‘Mom?’ ‘Yes?’ ‘I’m going out.’ ‘OK.’ I’ll be back later.” ‘OK’. ‘I don’t know when. It could be extremely late.’ ‘OK.

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‘ Why didn’t she ask me more? Why didn’t she try to stop me, or at least keep me safe?” (p.288). This causes Oskar to become more distant and depressed overall as he feels that he lacks attention.  If his mother explained to Oskar her communication with the Blacks then Oskar would’ve reciprocated his own thoughts and feelings.

The lack of communication creates conflict and slows down the process of recovery as no one is able to express how they feel to each other.