Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano
Penguin Random House: 1/6/20
eBook review copy; 352 pages
Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano is a very highly recommended
heartbreaking novel that examines the before and after of a boy
surviving a terrible tragedy.
Twelve-year-old Eddie Adler is the sole survivor of a plane crash
that killed his older
brother, Jordan, his parents, and 183 other passengers on a flight in
Newark to Los Angeles. Eddie wakes up in the hospital with a broken
body, no immediate family members, and a huge media presence. His Aunt
Lacey, his mother's sister, and Uncle John take him in, and hastily try
to make the nursery (set up for their never-born children) his room. He
is now called Edward. Edward ends up wandering next door and sleeping on
the floor of Shay's room. She's the girl who lives next door and
represents the one person he can relax around. His connection with Shay
helps him on his road to recovery and a way to go on.
Chapters alternate between the present and the past. The past
chapters flashback to the flight and chronicle some of the doomed
passengers on the flight, along with Edward's family. We learn about
their lives and hopes for the future as the flight continues toward what
we know is their demise. The present chapters follow Edward’s recovery during the years between
2013 and 2019. In 2016 he and Shay make a discovery, hundreds of letters
written to him and saved, but hidden, by his Uncle John. These letters
help set him on a road to finding his purpose and a way to live in the
Dear Edward is an engaging and beautifully written novel. This
sensitive, heartbreaking, extraordinary coming-of-age story
compassionately captures Edward's pain and struggle to recover both
emotionally and physically, as well as to find a meaning and purpose to
his life. The alternating chapters keep fresh in your mind the scope of
the upcoming tragedy that Edward is struggling daily to recover from. It
also serves to highlight that you don't know the future and what
tragedy could await any of us. It helps keep the magnitude of Edward's
loss and the breadth of his recovery in the forefront of your thoughts.
Edward is a perfectly imagine well-developed character. His post-trauma
recovery is described realistically but with compassion and empathy.
The other characters, Shay, his family, and some of the people on the
plane are also well-developed. Allowing the reader to know the intimate
thoughts of a selection of the doomed people on the flight makes the
tragedy even more poignant and heart-rending.
My review copy was courtesy of Penguin Random House.