Book Review: Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano

Today it is my pleasure to bring you my review of Ann Napolitano’s Dear Edward.

A transcendent coming-of-age story about the ways a broken heart learns to love again.

One summer morning, a flight takes off from New York to Los Angeles: there are 192 people aboard. When the plane suddenly crashes, twelve-year-old Edward Adler is the sole survivor.

In the aftermath, Edward struggles to make sense of his grief, sudden fame and find his place in a world without his family. But then Edward and his neighbour Shay make a startling discovery; hidden in his uncle’s garage are letters from the relatives of other passengers – all addressed him.

Following the passengers’ final hours and Edward’s unique coming-of-age, Dear Edward asks one of life’s most profound questions:

What does it mean not just to survive, but to truly live?

Well this is a novel with all the feels! I’ve actually had this book for quite some time, and I chose to read it whilst on holiday. I was struggling to commit to my next read, and chose this purely because my son is called Edward. I didn’t re-read the blurb, trusting that I wanted to read when I first got it, so I would still want to read it now. I can’t believe it took me so long to pick it up.

Edward Adler is a twelve year old boy, moving cross country from New York to Los Angeles with his mother, father and brother. There is nothing extraordinary about him – until he survives a plane crash when no one else does.

This is a coming of age novel, following Edward as he tries to correlate who he once was, to who he is growing up to be. His grief is sympathetically portrayed as he navigates a world without his family, often comparing his age milestones with that of his beloved lost brother.

The growth of Edwards relationships with his Aunt, Uncle, and neighbour Shay are beautifully described, and really draw you into his world as he navigates the new life he finds himself in. Upon finding letters in his Uncles garage, all addressed to him, these relationships deepen as they support him in working through his grief.

This is an emotional novel; given its subject it could never be anything but emotional. But it is sympathetically written – I believed that I was following the thoughts and feelings of a confused young boy who had lost everything he knew in just a few short moments. I was able to fully immerse myself in this story, and I couldn’t help but want the best for Edward. This is very much a character-driven novel; Ann Napolitano sets the scene but the characters are very much as the forefront of this story, which really helps you to become invested.

I am more than happy to recommend this novel – it is both heart-wrenching and uplifting. Whilst the central theme is grief, it is not a depressing novel at all. It is about learning to really live, rather than just survive.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Just as a little addendum – apparently Dear Edward is being made into an AppleTV series – this will definitely be one to watch! A great cast has been announced, I look forward to seeing how this wonderful book translates onto the small screen.

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