Title: Dear Edward
Author: Ann Napolitano
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
I give this book 5 out of 5 stars for the excellent plot and character development. This is a book about what happens when bad things happen. This is a book told from a sole survivor’s point of view after a traumatic incident.
What It’s About
Twelve year old Edward is moving to LA from New York with his parents and older brother. The story starts out at the airport in the early hours of June 12, 2013. They are all going through the dreaded security checkpoint, but Edward’s fifteen year old brother refuses. He tries to assert some independent and responsibility by refusing to go though the machine, instead opting to be searched by the security officers while his parents and younger brother Edward look on, powerless to stop it.
The book tells about more the family’s fellow passengers, including the woman with the bells on her skirts, the young military soldier, the pregnant young woman, and a woman running away from a situation of domestic abuse. Each have their own stories to tell. Each have dreams about starting over in California.
But unfortunately, those dreams never comes to friction. Later that afternoon, the plane crashes onto land. Edward is the only one to survive. While he rests at a hospital, the families of the victims are curious and want to see him. His aunt and uncle, the only family he has left now, comes from New Jersey to pick him up and take him to their house. During all of this, Edward tries to process the inevitable truth: his parents and brother are dead. All of the passengers on that plane are also gone.
At his aunt and uncle’s house, he meets a girl around his age named Shay. For some unknown reason, he finds himself drawn to her. He often describes her as his “oxygen.” He finds that he can’t sleep at his aunt and uncle’s house so he finds himself going to Shay’s in the middle of the night and sleeping on her bedroom floor.
For the rest of the book, the story intricately weaves the past and present. We see what happened on the plane from the moment of departure to that last moment when the plane starts to go down. We see what many of the passengers have done and do on that last day. We see their dreams, hopes, and fears.
We also see Edward and how he is adjusting to life after the crash for the next four years. We see Edward slowly start to accept and start finding happiness again. But in order to find happiness, he has to reconcile with the past.
Why You Should Read
This book is a testimony to how bad things can happen even on the most normal of days. It is a testimony to learning how to survive after a traumatic event. We may not always be able to stop the bad from happening, but we can certainly control how we feel about it. We can control how we react to it. Through the support of a community, we can eventually start to move on.
One of the central themes in this book is the concept of control. How much control do we really have over our own destinies? Bad things can happen. But it is how we deal with the situation that makes all the difference. When life feels out of control, we can choose to mourn and weep. Or, we can stand up, strong and firm, and try to move on. We can get past it, no matter how hard it may be.
Another theme in this book is the overwhelming power of love. The only power that exists to defeat darkness and evil is love. Through the support and love from Edward’s aunt, uncle and friend Shay, he is able to find new meaning in his life. He is able to find a reason why he survived, while the others didn’t. It is love that keeps him hanging on during his worst moments. And it is love again that has him doing things he would never have done before the crash.
You should read this coming of age tale because it is a story about any 12 year old boy who has been put into an impossible situation. You should read because he is just like any boy who is taking it one day at a time. He is trying to survive, and that is what we all are trying to do day by day.