One summer morning, twelve-year-old Edward Adler, his family, and 183 other passengers board a flight in Newark headed for Los Angeles. 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.
... a haunting novel that’s a masterful study in suspense, grief and survival ... Napolitano’s dual-timeline structure turns Dear Edward into a suspenseful page-turner with sprinkles of mystery, satisfying our rubbernecking urge to see the unfolding of a disaster and its aftermath ... While none of the adults in either the real crash or the novel it inspired survive, Napolitano’s fearless examination of what took place models a way forward for all of us. She takes care not to sensationalize, presenting even the most harrowing scenes in graceful, understated prose, and gives us a powerful book about living a meaningful life during the most difficult of times.
There’s something brutal about killing a planeload of people and then introducing a handful of them and killing them all over again. But the cruelty of this aspect of the novel’s structure is countered by the astonishing tenderness of other sections ... Napolitano has written a novel about the peculiar challenges of surviving a public disaster in the modern age. She shows with bracing clarity just how cable news and social media magnify misery and exposure as never before ... Napolitano attends to this cultural context deftly, letting the world’s agony and curiosity play out largely on the sidelines of what remains a delicate story of one boy’s physical and psychological recovery ... That blankness at the center of this novel could have become a kind of black hole absorbing all light and interest, but Napolitano captures the subtle shades of Edward’s spirit like the earliest intimations of dawn ... in Napolitano’s gentle handling, it’s persistently lovely ... one of the most touching stories you’re likely to read in the new year.
With its expert pacing and picture-perfect final page, Dear Edward is a wondrous read. It is a skillful and satisfying examination of not only what it means to survive, but of what it means to truly live.