Book Review: Dear Edward – Ann Napolitano

Welcome back!

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
Publisher: Viking
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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

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You can support your local bookshop by buying Dear Edward through them directly, or via Hive.

Comment below

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,


6 thoughts on “Book Review: Dear Edward – Ann Napolitano

  1. Thank you for this review. I really wanted to love this book based on its description, but it really didn’t do anything for me. I feel like it cut out at least 100 important pages. At a minimum, it should have had more development of the main character’s relationship with his brother and with Shay. It also struck me as exceedingly odd that shortly after he survived his plane crash, his aunt and uncle fly him back to New Jersey from Colorado. And he’s just silent during the trip. I’ve never been in a plane crash, so maybe I’m wrong, but I would think that would be pure torture for the boy. I would think it would even be incredibly difficult for the aunt that just lost her only sister to a plane crash.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m ninety percent through this book and I’m finally starting to get interested. Here are some questions I have about the book; Why does Edward not develop any relationships with the kids he’s in school with 8 hours a day; 5 days a week? Seems like he would meet other kids who have had traumatic or at least bad things happen to them and that would the basis for forming a relationship. Also, Edward goes into the garage and goes through John’s private papers without any qualms whatever. He never asks himself if this is something he should be doing. He could have approached John and asked permission and then they could have gone through the papers together and the story could develop along the same path. Also, who is going to send a check for $7,300,000. Totally unbelievable. I could see a few victim’s families writing Edward, but not the large number mentioned in the book. I think that would be the exception rather than the rule. Hard to believe. Also, the passengers on the plane are cliches, as I read in another review. They are all quirky. How about someone who is a total square. I’ve got a lot more, but that is enough for now.

    Liked by 1 person

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