Dear Edward

Dial. Jan. 2020. 352p. ISBN 9781984854780. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781984854797.
Imagine the pain of losing a single family member. Now, imagine getting on a plane with your entire family, both parents and an older brother, and when the plane crashes, you are the only passenger to survive. Such is the fate of 12-year-old Eddie Adler in this penetrating new novel from Napolitano (A Good Hard Look). Eddie awakens in the hospital with no immediate family, a huge social media presence as a celebrity survivor, an unshakable sense of hollowness, unsteady memories that can flare up painfully like a forest fire, and the need to understand who he is now, because in a tragedy like this, you don’t just lose your future, you lose your past. He even effectively gets a new name; he becomes Edward when he goes to live with his aunt and uncle in New Jersey. Edward does go forward, in illuminating if unexpected ways. But what makes this narrative so effective is its alternating between the ordinary events unfolding on the flight and the aftermath of the crash, which keeps the sense of loss and the significance of what has happened fresh in readers’ minds.
VERDICT The painfully vivid story of one boy’s coming of age redirected by tragedy.
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