Edward Alder and his family (mother, father, and older brother. Jordan) are on a flight to California as they move to settle into their new life on the west coast. However, the flight doesn’t get any further than Colorado, as the plane crashes. Out of all 191 passengers on this flight, Edward is the only survivor: a twelve-year-old boy. The book bounces back and forth between the final hours before the plane crash and the aftermath of Edward. Ana Napolitano’s “Dear Edward” may sound stark and bleak, but it shows us how we can move on from tragedy and find new purpose in life.
Edward ends up in the custody of his aunt and uncle, who have struggled with having their own child in the past. Edward is given the room meant to be a nursery, but because of his PTSD, he cannot sleep. He finds solace and friendship with his next-door neighbor, a twelve-year-old girl named Shay, and her mother. Shay then deems him “The Boy Who Lived”, a nice little nod to Harry Potter, even though he does not have any magical abilities.
During these flashbacks on the flight, we switch to the different perspectives of the different passengers: a Wall Street wunderkind, a young woman coming to terms with an unexpected pregnancy, an injured vet returning from Afghanistan, a septuagenarian business tycoon, and a free-spirited woman running away from her controlling husband. Towards the end of the book, I was getting bored with these perspectives and I wanted to see how the book ended. Overall, I did appreciate having these flashbacks in the book.
I felt an incredible amount of empathy for Edward. How do you move on with your life from such a tragedy? He can’t sleep, can’t eat, can’t even go back to what would be considered a normal life. He’s only twelve years old, but he has suddenly become an adult by experiencing a level of trauma that no one should have to experience. More specifically, he has to discover who he is/who he wants to be in order to figure out what the best method of support is for him. What I didn’t realize was that a similar situation happened in 2010, where a plane crashed in Libya and only a nine-year-old boy survived while all the passengers died from the crash.
For my 2020 Reading Challenges, I used “Dear Edward” for the following prompts and challenges:
- PopSugar Reading Challenge 2020: A book published in 2020
- Around the Year in 52 Books: A book published in 2020
This book does cover the topic of PTSD, grief, and loss. While those topics are featured heavily in the books, “Dear Edward” shows us what it’s like to find balance and accept these feelings without them overwhelming your life. Edward has gone through a traumatic experience, and his loved ones want to help him, but he has to learn what he needs help from exactly. He grew up so fast that no one really knows how to handle the situation, but Edward is surrounded by caring family members and friends to help him discover his new identity. If you want a book where all the characters tug at your heart, I recommend “Dear Edward”.