Book Review – Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano

books, reviews

Rating: 3 out of 5.

It feels as though this book has sat on my shelf for ages, so I decided to give it a go. I don’t often cry when I’m reading which I think is a shame. So I was ready for this to make me cry. Very ready. Surely a book about a plane crash would be the perfect book for that? I was sure that I’d race through this book when I started it on January 10th. I didn’t finish it until January 16th. It’s been ages that a book has taken a week to get through. Admittedly, I did read a couple more in that time but that still seems like a pretty long for a book this short. So, what went wrong?

I had high hopes for this book. Having read the synopsis, I was ready for this book to leave me an emotional wreck. Based on a couple of real-life events, Dear Edward tells the story of Edward Adler, the sole survivor of a plane crash. The event turns Edward’s life upside down. He moves in with his aunt and uncle and has to adapt to life without his parents and older brother. At the same time, the world is watching Edward. He is the miracle boy who defied death. Though his guardians try to keep him safe from everything surrounding the crash, Edward discovers some secrets that change his perspective. Can this young man ever get his head around what happened to him?

First off, I’ve never been a fan of books that switch between the past and present. Dear Edward flips between the events leading to the crash and Edward’s life afterwards. I’m sure that Ann Napolitano had her reasons for this, possibly to show that Edward wasn’t ready to address the crash yet. However, I just thought it ruined the pace and tone of the book. Instead of being an emotional and character-driven story, it felt as though she was trying to add a mystery element. I doubt anybody picked this book up wondering why the plane crashed? I don’t see why it deserved a big reveal.

Although I did appreciate the chance to get to know the characters on the plane, I think it could have been done differently. The whole narrative just felt a bit fragmented and you never really get the chance to deal with the emotional weight of it all. Yes, you get to meet the young woman who finds out that she’s pregnant but then you move on to someone else. You learn about these people but I still don’t think that they have enough depth for you to connect with them.

Meaning that I felt an absence of despair when reading this. I understand that there is no right way to deal with grief, so I didn’t mind that Edward’s response was a bit cold. However, I do wish that I had been more emotionally invested in the story. The only aspect of this book that made me cry was the issues faced by Edward’s Aunt and Uncle. The relationship between the three of them was interesting and I wish there had been more time for it. A fact that is odd considering how slow-paced this book was. It just seemed to go on forever but there was such a small amount of depth to it.

In the grand scheme of things, Dear Edward isn’t a bad book but I found it disappointing. It took a long time for Edward’s story to get going. Then there was the fact that every time it did, we got pulled out of it by the other narrative. This book contains a lot of clinical detail about planes and what caused the crash. However, it lacked an emotional connection to any of the characters. This was a book guaranteed to leave me in tears but it just didn’t. It’s not that Edward needed to be an emotional wreck but the reader did need to be more connected to his journey. Napolitano is so far removed from the emotions that it reads more like non-fiction.

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