DEAR EDWARD is a novel I would never have purposely read. Why? Fear of flying, that’s why. This superb novel begins with an Airbus A321 plummeting from the sky somewhere over the great state of Colorado. One soul survived. One. A young 12-year-old boy named Edward. All 183 passengers and his parents and older brother perished in the crash. Edward is now an instant celebrity.
Two of my coworkers raved about this novel. It’s not about a plane crash, it’s about the people and it’s about hope. Liz finally convinced me to read it. There is a scene near the beginning of the story that drew me in and sealed the deal. Edward is traveling from Newark to Los Angeles with his older brother and both his mom and dad. His mom is a screen writer and has a great new job waiting for her. We all know the security procedures these days. There are measures we all have to conform to. One is to go through the security check point. Jordan, the older brother, bulks at going through the machine. In fact, he requests a pat down. His parents who are already cleared and waiting on the other side, are horrified. This scene is perfect. I could picture it clearly. Both mirthful and fearful. But it immediately put a human face on this story and pulled me in.
Napolitano chose to showcase a handful of the passengers and tell us some back story. She did this kindly and with much thought. But we know they are all going to die. The story is back and forth so the actual crash does not sneak up on you and pull your guts out. I would never have been able to tolerate that.
When asked what inspired her to write this story, Napolitano responds. “It started with my obsession with a real plane crash from 2010. A commercial flight from South Africa to London–filled with mostly Dutch passengers on their way home from vacation crashed in Libya, and everyone on the flight died except for one 9-year-old boy named Ruben van Assouw. Ruben was found still strapped in to his seat about a half-mile away from the wreckage. Investigators speculated that he’d been sitting near the fuselage and had been ejected from the plane. He had a badly broken leg and punctured lung but was otherwise fine. Everyone else, including his parents and brother, died immediately. I couldn’t read enough about this story, and I knew fairly quickly that I was going to have to write my way into understanding how this boy could possibly walk away from the crash, from the loss of his entire family, and find a way to not only survive but live. “
Edward’s aunt and uncle take him in after this tragedy. They have issues of their own but they do the best they can to make a home for him. But who can possibly know what’s going on in the mind of a young person who is just trying to survive in the midst of social media and memory.
I think it’s brilliant that Napolitano brings a young girl Edward’s own age into the mix. Shay lives across the street with her mom and is the only person who he can relate to. The only person who is not trying to candy-coat what has happened to Edward. Her quirky personality triggers something in Edward and he knows he can trust Shay to be honest with him.
I’m truly glad I stepped from my comfort zone and read this book. Thanks Liz and Serena. You never let me down!
We have copies of DEAR EDWARD at Copperfish Books.
We would love to put one in your hands. You will love it. And, we are competitive with pricing. 20% off!