I received this book as an add-on for a Book of the Month box. With mostly positive reviews on Goodreads, I had high hopes for this novel, but unfortunately, this one missed the mark for me.
“Dear Edward” is the story of Edward, a 12 year old boy who is the sole survivor of a plane crash. His parents and brother were victims, and in one moment, he lost his whole world. The book’s chapters bounce between different perspectives of Edward in the “present” — which takes place after the crash and his aunt and uncle take him in — and the “past” of going through airport security and what took place during the flight, using different points of view from various passengers. This hodge-podge of characters’ thoughts ultimately did not add much to the story. If anything, it made me connect less with all of them, including Edward.
My Verdict: “Dear Edward” by Ann Napolitano is Not Worth Reading
At 336 pages, the book was not super long but seemed to drag on in the middle. I kept wondering what the point of everything was. I felt bad for Edward as he had to adjust to a new home and new guardians (his aunt and uncle) while missing his family. There is some mention of him missing his brother and mom, but not much about his dad. During the flight, his mother sat in first class away from the rest of her family, which I found odd. Maybe it was explained at some point during the book, but I didn’t catch it. The only bright spot in Edward’s life is meeting his neighbor Shay who is around his age. They become best friends, and she is convinced that he has some sort of special powers like Harry Potter.
What muddled this book was some of the language used. I guess, it’s just the author’s writing style, but at multiple points throughout the book I felt like Edward did not really act like a 12 year old boy, nor did he have 12-year-old-boy thoughts. Sure, it could have been from dealing with the crash and grieving for his family, but throughout the book, he quickly grows into a young man, ending with him and Shay graduating from high school.
Spoiler alert! Do not read further if you are planning on reading this novel.
Ultimately, the book ends with Shay and Edward sharing their first kiss at 18 years old. There is a brief explanation that 10 years later, their daughter will be born. I thought this was a sweet ending, but I honestly did not get the feeling that Shay liked Edward romantically. There were a few moments where Edward notices she has developed breasts and has started looking more like a young woman, and he blushes a few times talking with her. But other than that, this was not a YA love story.
Additionally, the other characters on the flight were just so strange to me and seemed more like props in an attempt to make the story more interesting. There was a beautiful flight attendant one of the passengers hooks up with in the bathroom. There was also a closeted homosexual soldier returning from duty who was in love with another soldier in his platoon. It wasn’t clear whether the other soldier actually loved him in return. Another character was a woman who discovered she was pregnant while on the flight. I’m sorry, but if I suspect I’m pregnant, I’m not going to take a pregnancy test in an airplane bathroom. I just wouldn’t want that to be the memory I have later on in life. And then there was another woman who had been married a bunch of times who was trying to get out of an abusive relationship. She believed in reincarnation and that she had lived several lifetimes. It was just very strange, and I think her character was just there to describe the pregnant woman because they sat beside each other. There were about 190 people on the flight, but the author chose these particular characters to portray. I guess, I just wasn’t feeling it.
Of course, I don’t want to discourage anyone from reading this book! However, you may want to skip this one if you are looking for something more along the lines of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. As always, thanks so much for reading! If you’ve read this book, let me know what you thought of it!