Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano

goggle books review

Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano

Published 6 Jan 2020 

A novel about an aeroplane disaster, in these times of world worry, shouldn't be cathartic, uplifting, nor enjoyable; but that's exactly what Dear Edward is. If this was a film, it wouldn't be labelled as a 'disaster' movie, it's a 'coming of age 'drama and what could be described as a study in humanities reactions to unmitigated tragedy, and that we may well need triumph to overcome it.

The story starts as a young family gather at the airport, taking a commercial flight from New York to California- relocating for the mother's job, she's a screenwriter.  The families two young sons, Jordan & Eddie are homeschooled by their father. Jordon is 15, Eddie is 12, the brothers share a close bond, the latter boy being grounded and mild-mannered, Jordan is the typical rebellious teenager. We soon learn that the plane crashes, killing 191 people, and Eddie is the sole survivor.

The narrative flashes to before and after the crash, introducing and dissecting the lives of passengers on the plane, and some small subplots about their lives. We know that their journey is about to reach its final destination so it reads kind of prophetic, but the subplot's and characterisation give the penultimate crash more meaning.

As Edward recovers from the plane crash the orphaned teen goes to live with his aunt and uncle and becomes friends with the young girl who lives next door.  'Eddie' soon becomes Edward and he is helped in overcoming the inevitable emotional and physical obstacles by his new friend Shay. As the year's pass, Eddie and Shay, become awkward teenagers, and as their relationship blossoms, it carries the narrative of Edward's recovery with a warm sentiment.

As Edward starts school for the first time, the crash victim becomes friends with the headteacher (an amateur botanist) starts weightlifting, and is helped in recovery by his psychiatrist. Discovering a hoard of letters written to him by relatives of the crash victims, Edward eventually realises how lucky he has been, wishing to help the families of the victims who didn't make it and looks towards the future. The plane crash itself is dramatic, the prose throughout is impressive, and this is a warmly engaging book. An interesting take on the 'coming of age' fiction novel and it's a cathartic read in these times of troubling uncertainty. We can learn a lot from 'Dear Edward', and whilst we are all self-isolating, I suggest you read this book.

Gogglebooks - 7/10 


With thanks to Viking books