My December 2019 pick from the Book of the month club, “Dear Edward” is a truly great novel.
This is the story of Edward Adler, a 12 year old boy who’s New York based family is moving to the west coast. The board their flight, but it never arrives at the destination. Edward is the sole survivor of the crash. We follow him as he goes to live with his aunt and uncle, befriends the girl next door, and retreats into himself. As the book goes on, and the years pass, Edward begins to find purpose in his life. His survivor’s guilt, his tremendous grief at losing his family, and a hundred other emotions all come together as he discovers a bunch of letters, written to him, from the families of the other crash victims. “Dear Edward”.
But I’ve only covered half the book. Each chapter alternates between Edward’s life after the crash and the actual crash itself. We meet a group of interesting characters, learn their hopes, fears, dramas, all the while knowing that they will all die. As Edward grows up, we get ever closer to the chapter where it all goes wrong.
This is a book that sticks with you. It is a selection of MANY book clubs, and for good reason. Napolitano has crafted a story that is sad, funny, reflective, horrible, hopeful… in short: a HUMAN story. She fleshes out all of the main and supporting characters enough that we get a true sense of who they are. This is particularly effective on the plane where these snapshots of their lives become all the more poignant knowing that those lives are effectively over. We learn their plans for when they land, new jobs, boyfriends, and all the other myriad things that happen in our lives.
Rather than a sad book, this somehow becomes a book that affirms our hopes. Life is good, people are good. I cannot recommend this highly enough.