Published by Dial Press on January 6, 2020
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Bantering Books Rating:
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 is a Wall Street wunderkind, a young woman coming to terms with an unexpected pregnancy, an injured vet returning from Afghanistan, a septuagenarian business tycoon, and a free-spirited woman running away from her controlling husband. And then, tragically, the plane crashes. Edward is the sole survivor.
Edward's story captures the attention of the nation, but he struggles to find a place for himself in a world without his family. He continues to feel that a piece of him 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 find yourself? How do you discover your purpose? What does it mean not just to survive, but to truly live?
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.
Bantering Books Review
I am conflicted.
I am a tad disappointed.
I thought I would love Dear Edward. I wanted to love it.
But I just didn’t. And I think I know why — but more on that in a minute.
Based on true events, Dear Edward is the coming-of-age story of (you guessed it!) Edward, a twelve-year-old boy who loses his entire family when their plane to California plummets to the ground. Edward is the sole survivor of the crash, while the lives of his father, mother, brother, and nearly 200 other people on the flight tragically come to an end.
The novel flits back and forth between telling the story of Edward’s personal journey after the crash and giving us glimpses of the lives of a handful of other passengers on the flight. Both narrative threads ultimately culminate with the passengers’ final moments before the crash of the plane.
One only has to read the blurb for Dear Edward to know that it is a novel about grief, loss, overcoming tragedy, and survival. Going into it, one expects a deeply emotional, heart-wrenching read.
But you know what? It really isn’t– and there’s the rub.
Napolitano’s writing is cold . . . distant, almost. Instead of a novel, I often felt as if I was reading a report written by a journalist . . . or that the story was being told by a play-by-play announcer.
Where is the emotion? The love? The grief? The sadness?
Because I didn’t feel it. It just wasn’t there.
And that absence of emotion was very problematic for me.
I didn’t feel close to the characters. I didn’t feel inserted into, consumed by the story. My mind wandered off at times because I just wasn’t THAT emotionally invested in the novel.
Oh, there were a handful of times while reading where I was surprised to find that I had tears in my eyes. But I recognized that my tears were brought on more by my own personal empathy for Edward and his family — not by Napolitano’s writing. As a mother of two young boys, I couldn’t help but imagine one of my sons in Edward’s place. (How I shudder at the thought.)
But still . . . as flawed as it may be, Dear Edward really isn’t a bad read. I did enjoy it.
It’s just not a great read.
And it could’ve been.
If Napolitano had put a little heart into it, it really could’ve been.