I don’t often post negative reviews, indeed I hope this comes across more neutral and balanced than negative. I’ve seen a lot of hype around this book which is one of the reasons I pushed it to the top of my TBR, but sadly this book and I have ended up with a difficult relationship…
I hope you enjoy.
Author(s): Ann Napolitano
Publication date: February 2020
One summer morning, a flight takes off from New York to Los Angeles. There are 216 passengers aboard: among them a young woman taking a pregnancy test in the airplane toilet; a Wall Street millionaire flirting with the air hostess; an injured soldier returning from Afghanistan; and two beleaguered parents moving across the country with their adolescent sons, bickering over who gets the window seat. When the plane suddenly crashes in a field in Colorado, the younger of these boys, 12-year-old Edward Adler, is the sole survivor.
Dear Edward depicts Edward’s life in the crash’s aftermath as he struggles to make sense of the meaning of his survival, the strangeness of his sudden fame, and find his place in the world without his family. In his new home with his aunt and uncle, the only solace comes from his friendship with the girl next door, Shay. Together Edward and Shay make a startling discovery: hidden in his uncle’s garage are sacks of letters from the relatives of the other passengers, addressed to Edward.
As Edward comes of age against the backdrop of sudden tragedy, he must confront some of life’s most profound questions: how do we make the most of the time we are given? And what does it mean not just to survive, but to truly live?
I started to review this book when I was about a third of the way in. I felt like I was missing something about the book, completely unable to see where it was going or what the key message(s) of the book is/are. The premise of the book is intriguing and the writing good, so what was it that was making me feel so uncertain?
The book is from two perspectives: that of the main character, Edward, the only survivor of a plane crash. The other perspective is that of the other passengers before the crash. A wide range of people with all sorts of emotional baggage: trauma, previous lives (yes, previous lives!), unexpected pregnancy, and the desire to be more than a mother – to be powerful, sexual, and wanted.
So, 34% into the book I started to ask myself, do I want to keep reading this? And here are a few reasons why:
- It’s really hard to invest in characters you know are about to die. I already know I will never know what comes of the circumstances because the answer is nothing.
- I don’t feel like I have a connection with Edward. Maybe I’m not meant to. He has been through something so horrifically, life-changingly traumatic that (at my present moment) I have no way of empathising with him.
I can only think, at this point in the book, that I am entirely missing the point. I am hoping that the point will, at the very least, start to make itself known to me soon, otherwise I am going to struggle to continue reading.
At 78%, I was so close to giving in but psychologically, I just couldn’t put the book down at that point. So I continued to read, half paying attention, and finished it.
In the end, my first impressions were right. I just didn’t care about the characters. I felt very detached from them the entire time I was reading, like I was watching something from a great distance. Everything about it just seemed superficial. I understand that it is meant to be about living your life, seizing opportunities etc., but it just fell flat.
I don’t expect every work of fiction to have an antagonist but, in this case, I think maybe this would’ve added something to the narrative to give it more pace and the critical points usually found in storytelling.
I really wanted to enjoy this book but sadly, it was not for me. The premise is excellent and I think on that basis it will be very popular.
Many thanks to Viking and NetGalley for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
You can support your local bookshop by buying Dear Edward through them directly, or via Hive.
What do you think of Dear Edward? Will you be reading it? Let me know in the comments below.
Wishing you a wonderfully bookish week,