Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Dear Edward

Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano
Penguin Random House: 1/6/20
eBook review copy; 352 pages
ISBN-13: 9781984854780

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 world.

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.
Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Penguin Random House.

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