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Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano

One summer morning, Flight 2977 takes off from Newark Airport headed for Los Angeles. There are 216 passengers aboard. Among them, a Wall Street wunderkind worth $15 million, a young woman who finds herself unexpectedly pregnant, an injured soldier returning from Afghanistan, and two frazzled parents moving across the country with their adolescent sons.

When the plane suddenly crashes in a field in Colorado, there is just one survivor; the younger of the two boys, 12-year-old Edward Adler.

Told in alternating viewpoints, Dear Edward recounts the stories of the passengers of that flight as it hurtles towards its fateful end. Edward's recovery and life in the crash's aftermath is documented too. The young boy must make sense of the loss of his family and his miraculous survival, the strangeness of his newfound fame, and the meaning of his survival.

As he comes of age against the backdrop of the tragedy, he confronts some of life's most profound questions: How do we make sense of the time we've been given? For whom do we reach in life's final moments? What does it mean to live well?

Dear Edward had me from the very first page. It opens in a fairly nondescript way, describing the security line at an airport as the Alder family move cross country.

Author Ann Napolitano somehow manages to turn the mundane reality of an airport security line into a gripping read. It is written beautifully and authentically.

By the second chapter, it is clear to the reader that the plane has crashed and Eddie, or Edward as he is known post-crash, is the sole survivor. But what may not be immediately clear is how this is not solely Eddie's story. While I'm not normally a fan of various viewpoints in a book, each chapter flows and links together perfectly.

Every character, even those that are there to disrupt you or challenge you, is whole, complex, authentic and oddly relatable, even if at first they seem to have nothing in common with you.

It is one of those books that, if you have to put it down, you keep sneaking back to it. Snatching sentences at a time in between moments.

The book is full of sadness and heart-breaking moments. But it is not a sad tear-jerker. Napolitano manages to ensure the reader is left full of hope and wonder, compelled to think deeper about relationships and connections.

It is a beautiful book that is both powerful and poignant.

Reviewer: Rebekah Lyell

Viking, RRP $37


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