First review for today. I come to you with my first book club book of the month. There are four book club books that I have for this month. Be prepared.
Customary warning: This is a reminder that these are my personal opinions. My thoughts and feelings are not your thoughts and feelings. I may not always be the target audience for a book; sometimes I am. If I do not like a book, that doesn’t mean you’ll dislike it. If I love a book or simply like a book, you may hate it. Take everything I say with this knowledge. If it sounds interesting to you despite what I’ve said, then go ahead and read it. You’ll only know you like something if you read it yourself.
That being said… Spoilers ahead.
Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano
Synopsis From The Book
One summer morning, twelve-year-old Edward Adler, his beloved older brother, his parents, and 183 other passengers board a flight in Newark headed for Los Angeles. Among them are a Wall Street wunderkind, a young woman coming to terms with an unexpected pregnancy, an injured veteran returning from Afghanistan, a business tycoon, and a free-spirited woman running away from her controlling husband. Halfway across the country, the plane crashes. Edward is the sole survivor.
Edward’s story captures the attention of the nation, but he struggles to find a place in a world without his family. He continues to feel that a part of himself has been left in the sky, forever tied to the plane and all of his fellow passengers. But then he makes an unexpected discovery—one that will lead him to the answers of some of life’s most profound questions: When you’ve lost everything, how do you find the strength to put one foot in front of the other? How do you learn to feel safe again? How do you find meaning in your life?
Dear Edward is at once a transcendent coming-of-age story, a multidimensional portrait of an unforgettable cast of characters, and a breathtaking illustration of all the ways a broken heart learns to love again.
Contemporary – Drama | Adult – PW |Tragic Accident, Trauma, Major Character Death | Loss, Resurgence of Hope and Purpose, Dealing with Trauma
Initial Thoughts Before Reading:
I read this book knowing that it is a Historical Fiction novel. I picked it as a change of pace from my standard fantasy settings. I know that it is for a younger audience but that doesn’t mean it will lose power. I look forward to reading this novel.
My aunt got me this book for free from her library sale. I love these sorts of gifts because they are books that I wasn’t expecting to get or had an interest in reading to be
Initial Thoughts After Reading:
Something to remember when reading fiction for younger audiences is that you mustn’t expect the same as you would for older ones. You must hold it to the standard of its age category, and I do my best to do that with each novel that I read.
As for this novel, well that was emotional. Emotional books are always so taxing but this one left me in tears and in hope. And that is worth something. While I didn’t heaving get invested in all the characters, I did dive deep with the title character and let myself do so. I can’t wait to talk about this one at book club. (Although the book club questions at the back of the book never really hit on what I want to talk about at book club).
The book begins with Jordan, 15, refusing to go through the TSA scanner because he didn’t think it was efficient, and was degrading. His family makes it to their flight and later that day it crashes. The novel is told in two parts. Part one is about the passengers on the plane leading up to the crash. The second is from Eddie or Edward, 12, who was the only survivor.
Victims: We learn of Eddie’s family and their dynamic as well as focus on two other passengers. In his family, there are multiple dynamics that prove they aren’t as perfect as they look from the outside. Jordan, in specific, has been Eddie’s other half for as long as they’ve both been alive. Yet there is a divide between them now since Jordan got a girlfriend without telling Eddie. Jordan believes that Eddie is a genius. Bruce homeschools his sons and tries to keep them healthy (and accommodates for them even as Jordan goes vegan and throws his dad for a loop). He wants to send Eddie to a school for music. The first is Benjamin a war vet, shot in his side while in Afghanistan, and liked a man named Gavin. Linda, a woman moving for a new start, is pregnant and going to be proposed to. Crispin is a famous business man who has cancer. Veronica is a flight attendant that sleeps with Mark, a married man. Florida, Linda’s row mate, is running from her husband. Something goes wrong with the plane and the pilots try to respond. The plane fails on them and they fall. The man who found Eddie heard him yelling “I’m here.” Over and over again. And then when he picked Eddie up that was all Eddie repeated over and over again.
Survivor: Eddie is the only survivor, and he is lost. He’s only twelve but his entire life has crumbled around him. Everyone calls him Edward, not Eddie, and to him the Eddie he was before was dead. The only comfort (and place he can sleep) is the floor of a neighbor girl’s room. He loses track of time, loses weight, and loses everything that he once had. He no longer plays music and wishes his brother, Jordan, had lived instead of him. One day, in winter, Eddie meets Gary, who was going to propose to Linda when she landed. They talk and Eddie hears a strange line, that sparks deep memories and thoughts within him. More time passes and a hearing is called in D.C. on the plane crash. Edward is overwhelmed so he sits it out. More time passes and with grade starts. He doesn’t hear the clicking in his head anymore, but music has not come back to him.
Two years after the crash, Edward goes to summer camp with Shay. He gets the clear of health from doctors, and Edward feels like everyone expects him to just get better. Shay’s mom makes him stop sleeping on Shay’s floor (he was doing it because he’d never slept alone. He was always near Jordan and with Jordan dead Shay was the next best option.) He pushes a girl in gym as a reflex and gets put into weightlifting. The first night of Shay’s room ban, he collapses outside in tears. Shay who is like his oxygen is slipping from him and almost three months later, he feels like he is alone all the time. Edward persists and he turns fifteen, the same age as Jordan when Jordan died. He finds John’s (his uncle) storage of all things crash related and with Shay starts reading letters sent to him. He learns all sorts of things. He and Shay begin to respond to them, and Edward learns about his brother’s GF. He visits her, and then confronts John about the letters and keeps reading. He then goes to a tarot card reader, she tells him to search for the answers within himself. Edward decides to give the money he got from a family member of the deceased to those who didn’t get much from losing their loved ones.
The summer of tenth grade, Edward decided he wants to be a teacher. Instead of thinking he has the weight of their lives on his shoulder, he now thinks of it as him being their counterweight. As long as he is on the ground, they are in the sky, alive.
What I Liked:
Edward; He goes through so much, and this child does his absolute best. As a character, my heart ached for him the entire book. The fact that everyone expected him just to start getting better was one of those things that does actually happen.
Shay; I know that she could be annoying but for what it is worth, I think she was exactly what Edward needed.
Characters of the plane; They were all well rounded and created. I had to keep myself from caring about them when I knew they’d die.
Characters in Edward’s life; His aunt and uncle. The people he meets who were loved ones of those from the plane. Each had their own story and how they moved through grief, which was brilliant.
Message and Moral; I really liked how this book was about living life, without being over preachy about it.
Trauma and Healing; This is what the book did so well for so many of the characters and the reason I’d recommend it.
Hope; At the end of it all, this is what the book stands for.
What I Would Have Liked or Changed:
I wish Edward touched a piano again. Even if he never played the way he used to, I would have liked it. Because it was such an intricate part of who he was as Eddie. I suppose, yes, he did leave it behind because he was different. But I think it could have been used, still to fit the message. It was mentioned that he was good enough that his father wanted to send him to a school for music. His brother thought he was musically minded. Edward spoke about how the music never came back to him, and how he wasn’t sure he could play anymore. I thought that when he got the letters and read them all that he’d get the spark to play again. I thought when the clicking in his head stopped he’d be alone, but when Shay helped him, he’d start to hear the music again in a different way. I’d think his style would have changed because the music of the world would have changed for him. But I felt like it was left aside, and I feel that in some ways an interesting thought was lost because of it. However I do know that some people give up things that are tied to their trauma for good, and I understand that, it just always hurts me. I always wish for people to be able to hone their gifts, even if its not always possible.
Structure; While I did like the structure of having the plane and Edward, I wish I’d been introduced to all the plane character’s their lives and hopes, before I knew the crash happened. I wish I got much of their information before Eddie wakes in the hospital, because as it is now I didn’t tie any emotional weight to them. I cared but I also knew they were going to die so I tried not to care as much. I didn’t want myself to be hurt by them, so I focused in on Eddie and his family. I think that by having us known more of the characters first, I could have tied that emotional weight into them more.
Book Club Thoughts:
While my mom and I tried not to get too emotionally attached to the people on the plane, we did agree that they were interesting characters. Issues, however, people brought up that you can’t form lines for the bathroom on the plane (you can, but only for the back ones not the front restroom). So, I thought they were for the front restroom, which doesn’t work, but if it were for the back, it does.
Two, comments on how awkward it is to have sex on an airplane in the bathroom.
Three, people did talk about how it was weird that no one tried to really get Edward to sleep back at home and to accommodate him more, or to make it seem that they tried more. I thought they were just letting him do what was most comfortable, when he had none, but some of the others thought the parents should have gotten him to go home more. In my experience, it took me years to stop sleeping in the same room as my brothers, so I understood it. But I also understood what they were talking about.
In general, everyone really liked this book.
“I wouldn’t have done that to you because I know what it’s like to be left behind.” – pg 283
“What’s happened is baked into your bones, Edward. It lives under your skin. It’s not going away. It’s part of you and will be part of you every moment until you die. What you’ve been working on, since the first time I met you, is learning to live with that.” – pg 317
“The air between us is not empty space.” – pg 335
You all suck. You didn’t tell me this wasn’t completed. HAHA. Fixed 02/14/2020