Title/Author: Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano
Publisher: The Dial Press of Random House Publishing Group
In a nutshell (Publisher):
What does it mean not just to survive, but to truly live?
One summer morning, twelve-year-old Edward Adler, his beloved older brother, his parents, and 183 other passengers board a flight in Newark headed for Los Angeles. Among them are a Wall Street wunderkind, a young woman coming to terms with an unexpected pregnancy, an injured veteran returning from Afghanistan, a business tycoon, and a free-spirited woman running away from her controlling husband. Halfway across the country, the plane crashes. Edward is the sole survivor.
Edward’s story captures the attention of the nation, but he struggles to find a place in a world without his family. He continues to feel that a part of himself has been left in the sky, forever tied to the plane and all of his fellow passengers. But then he makes an unexpected discovery—one that will lead him to the answers of some of life’s most profound questions: When you’ve lost everything, how do you find the strength to put one foot in front of the other? How do you learn to feel safe again? How do you find meaning in your life?
Dear Edward is at once a transcendent coming-of-age story, a multidimensional portrait of an unforgettable cast of characters, and a breathtaking illustration of all the ways a broken heart learns to love again.
My verdict: A heartbreaking novel that’s bound to touch and warm your heart.
191 passengers died in a plane crash, including Edward’s family. Edward was the only survivor.
This is a tough read on many levels. How do you deal with loss at such a young age? Loss of loved ones is unfathomable, let alone dealing with it. What happens to your life? How do you move on? And the constant question of ‘Why me?’ I think the author captured it really well in this novel.
Edward built a wall around himself and dulled his emotions, and was constantly trying to fend off thoughts that took him back to the plane. He let ‘Eddie’ die with the crash, and took on ‘Edward’ as his ‘new’ identity. He wanted to be left alone, or just hang out with Shay. It took him 6 years to get out of that deep hole he dug. His childhood came and went in a blurry of activities.
The writing allowed me to empathize with Edward – his loneliness, loss and despair were unbearable. The weight of being the one alive was burying him alive. Minutes, hours and days felt so long. I wanted so much for him to move on, to stop carrying that weight. But at the same time I saw how difficult it was for him to deal with it. And he was only 12!! It felt safer to feel numb.
I loved reading about Edward and Shay, how they bonded and became each other’s strengths, and how his uncle and aunt helped him to in every way they could, although they were struggling themselves. Principal Arundhi was quite an interesting character too. I loved how he inadvertently helped Edward and directing his attention to ferns instead of forcing him to stick to the typical curriculum.
I especially loved the part when Edward came to a realization that he wasn’t the only one dealing with loss, his aunt, Lacey, lost her sister in that crash too, and so did the family members of the victims of the place crash. It kind of hit me at the same time too. Made me realize how we sometimes can become to involved in our own misfortunes, that we forget there are others in this world who are suffering the same fate, if not worse.
What I found difficult to engage in though, was the stories the passengers in the plane. I saw what the author was trying to do, to give the victims their stories, to be remembered. And they were sort of repeated towards the end when Edward found the letters addressed to him, hence the title, Dear Edward.
Yes their stories were necessary, but maybe a little more condensed or fewer stories, and give more focus on Edward. I must admit that I skimmed some parts when it came to the stories of the passengers, because I was more interested in reading about Edward and his present day, and how he was trying to cope.
My favorite character was definitely Shay. I guess for the same reasons Edward was drawn to her too – funny, outspoken and street-smart. And the touching, tender ending…It was beautiful. And the part that got me all teary was the letter written by one of the rescue volunteers that ended with ‘I’m here. I’m here. I’m here.’ Simple, yet powerful words.
This is a heartbreaking yet heartwarming story about loss and grief, but it is also about love and friendship, strength and survival, and hope and humanity. It made me think about living and being alive. Give it a gander!Tweet
Thank you Netgalley and The Dial Press for a free eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Have you read this book? What did you think? If you haven’t, do you intend to? Please share with me your thoughts!
Last but not least, thank you for stopping by and may the power of good reads be with you all year round!