Author: Anne Napolitano
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Page Count: 336
“Dear Edward” made me cry big fat tears that crinkled little dots onto the pages.
I picked this book out at the bookstore after Jenna Bush picked it as the December 2019 book for her book club, Read with Jenna. Barnes and Noble always features the picks from celebrity book clubs front-and-center in the store, and the cover was so beautiful that I had to read the synopsis.
The story follows Edward Alder as he tries to adjust to life after becoming the only survivor in a tragic plane crash. It’s coming-of-age story about a twelve-year-old boy who’s trying to figure out his own identity, who doesn’t know who he is without his parents and older brother.
I flew through this book without realizing that I was doing it. The way the story unfolded sucked me in so quickly that I would forget that I was reading; the only thing I cared about was “what am I going to learn about these characters next?” and “what emotional situation is Edward going to have to overcome now?”
I’m a big fan of novels with nonlinear timelines, if they’re done right, and this book definitely does it right. We learn about these plane passengers bit by bit, discovering new information either a) right before it comes into play in Edward’s present-day life or b) right after Edward encountered something that this new information explains. Every chapter is expertly connected in ways that allow the story to continue to flow.
It’s heartbreaking to read about a character who is looking forward to something in life when you already learned in chapter two—actually, it was literally in the synopsis—that they die before they even get off of the plane. Napolitano does a great job of characterizing each passenger simply and concisely; sometimes, all a writer has to do is give a character a certain quirk or trait or characteristic, and the reader learns so much from that one thing. Napolitano clearly knows how to do that.
“Dear Edward” is a heartbreaking but hopeful story that I want everyone to read ASAP.