Dear Me! What was I thinking when I decided to read a book about a young boy who was the sole survivor on a plane crash? It’s not a pleasant topic, or a subject that I ordinarily read… but something just drew me to it. Whatever it was, I am very glad I read the book Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano. It’s good to be pushed outside one’s comfort zone every now and then.
Eddie is a 12 year old boy who boards a flight from Newark to Los Angeles with his mother, father, and 15 year old brother, Jordan. They are moving to LA where his mother has a new writing job. Eddie and Jordan have always been very close, and their math genius father has home schooled them. After the plane crashes, Eddie is the sole survivor, and the other 191 people aboard have died. He goes to live with his mother’s sister, Lacey, and her husband John. They tell the press and medical staff to call him Edward instead of Eddie.
The book treats Edward’s depression, confusion, and often fugue state of mind with compassion and reality. John and Lacey were already having marital difficulties due to infertility when Edward arrives at their home. They are totally ill-equipped to deal with their own lives, let alone him. But they try and try to love him and protect him from the media circus that surrounds him, as well as all the other strangers who feel they have the right to tell him how to live.
Throughout the story, Edward experiences considerable mournfulness over the loss of his brother. Edward is often reminded that he is “special” for having survived. However, he often lacks the social skills to deal with all the situations he faces. Edward befriends the next door neighbor, Shay, and she helps him deal with issues of school and grief. Their bond is very endearing.
The book divides into chapters dealing with Edward and his recovery, and other chapters regarding the flight before it crashes. The flight chapters spend a little too much time on back stories other several other people on the plane. There was a lot of story line about the first class flight attendant, but I don’t remember there being any meaningful post crash connection between any of her family members and Edward.
Towards the end of the book, we learn of letters that were written to “Dear Edward” after the crash. While sometimes disturbing, these letters help Edward in unexpected ways. Slowly he is able to learn to live with the memories of his past and possibilities of his future. Along the way he supported by his aunt and uncle, Shay and her mom, his therapist, a fantastic school principal, and a PE Coach.
I enjoyed this character driven book much more than I expected. It will be published on January 14, 2020. 4.5 stars. Be sure to put it on your To Read List.
Thanks to Netgalley and to Random House – The Dial Press for my advanced reader copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.