Dear Edward

Dear Edward

by Ann Napolitano


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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • #ReadWithJenna Book Club Pick as Featured on Today • A “dazzling” novel that “will break your heart and put it back together again” (J. Courtney Sullivan, bestselling author of Saints for All Occasions) about a young boy who must learn to go on after surviving tragedy
“A reading experience that leaves you profoundly altered for the better . . . Don’t miss this one.”—Jodi Picoult, bestselling author of Small Great Things and A Spark of Light

What does it mean not just to survive, but to truly live? 

One summer morning, twelve-year-old Edward Adler, his beloved older brother, his parents, and 183 other passengers board a flight in Newark headed for Los Angeles. Among them are a Wall Street wunderkind, a young woman coming to terms with an unexpected pregnancy, an injured veteran returning from Afghanistan, a business tycoon, and a free-spirited woman running away from her controlling husband. 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. He continues to feel that a part of himself has been left in the sky, forever tied to the plane and all of his fellow passengers. But then he makes an unexpected discovery—one that will lead him to the answers of some of life’s most profound questions: When you’ve lost everything, how do you find the strength to put one foot in front of the other? How do you learn to feel safe again? How do you find meaning in your life?

Dear Edward is at once a transcendent coming-of-age story, a multidimensional portrait of an unforgettable cast of characters, and a breathtaking illustration of all the ways a broken heart learns to love again.

Praise for Dear Edward

Dear Edward made me think, nod in recognition, care about its characters, and cry, and you can’t ask more of a novel than that.”—Emma Donoghue, New York Times bestselling author of Room

“Weaving past and present into a profoundly beautiful, page-turning story of mystery, loss, and wonder, Dear Edward is a meditation on survival, but more important, it is about carving a life worth living. It is about love and hope and caring for others, and all the transitory moments that bind us together.”—Hannah Tinti, author of The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley and The Good Thief

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781984854780
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/06/2020
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 1,283
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Ann Napolitano is the author of the novels A Good Hard Look and Within Arm’s Reach. She is also the associate editor of One Story literary magazine. She received an MFA from New York University and has taught fiction writing at Brooklyn College’s MFA program, New York University’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies, and Gotham Writers Workshop. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two children.

Read an Excerpt

June 12, 2013

7:45 a.m.

Newark Airport is shiny from a recent renovation. There are potted plants at each joint of the security line, to keep passengers from realizing how long they’ll have to wait. People prop themselves against walls or sit on suitcases. They all woke up before dawn; they exhale loudly, sputtering with exhaustion.

When the Adler family reaches the front of the line, they load their computers and shoes into trays. Bruce Adler removes his belt, rolls it up, and slots it neatly beside his brown loafers in a gray plastic bin. His sons are messier, throwing sneakers on top of laptops and wallets. Laces hang over the side of their shared tray, and Bruce can’t stop himself from tucking the loose strands inside.

The large rectangular sign beside them reads: All wallets, keys, phones, jewelry, electronic devices, computers, tablets, metal objects, shoes, belts, and food must go into the security bins. All drink and contraband must be thrown away.

Bruce and Jane Adler flank their twelve-­year-­old son, Eddie, as they approach the screening machine. Their fifteen-­year-­old son, Jordan, hangs back until his family has gone through.

Jordan says to the officer manning the machine: “I want to opt out.”

The officer gives him a look. “What’d you say?”

The boy shoves his hands in his pockets and says, “I want to opt out of going through the machine.”

The officer yells, apparently to the room at large: “We’ve got a male O-­P-­T!”

“Jordan,” his father says, from the far side of the tunnel. “What are you doing?”

The boy shrugs. “This is a full-­body backscatter, Dad. It’s the most dangerous and least effective screening machine on the market. I’ve read about it and I’m not going through it.”

Bruce, who is ten yards away and knows he won’t be allowed to go back through the scanner to join his son, shuts his mouth. He doesn’t want Jordan to say another word.

“Step to the side, kid,” the officer says. “You’re holding up traffic.”

After the boy has complied, the officer says, “Let me tell you, it’s a whole lot easier and more pleasant to go through this machine than to have that guy over there pat you down. Those pat­downs are thorough, if you know what I mean.”

The boy pushes hair off his forehead. He’s grown six inches in the last year and is whippet thin. Like his mother and brother, he has curly hair that grows so quickly he can’t keep it in check. His father’s hair is short and white. The white arrived when Bruce was twenty-­seven, the same year Jordan was born. Bruce likes to point at his head and say to his son, Look what you did to me. The boy is aware that his father is staring intently at him now, as if trying to deliver good sense through the air.

Jordan says, “There are four reasons I’m not going through this machine. Would you like to hear them?”

The security officer looks amused. He’s not the only one paying attention to the boy now; the passengers around him are all listening.

“Oh God,” Bruce says, under his breath.

Eddie Adler slips his hand into his mother’s, for the first time in at least a year. Watching his parents pack for this move from New York to Los Angeles—the Grand Upheaval, his father called it—gave him an upset stomach. He feels his insides grumble now and wonders if there’s a bathroom nearby. He says, “We should have stayed with him.”

“He’ll be okay,” Jane says, as much to herself as to her son. Her husband’s gaze is fixed on Jordan, but she can’t bear to look. Instead, she focuses on the tactile pleasure of her child’s hand in hers. She has missed this. So much could be solved, she thinks, if we simply held hands with each other more often.

The officer puffs out his chest. “Hit me, kid.”

Jordan raises his fingers, ready to count. “One, I prefer to limit my exposure to radiation. Two, I don’t believe this technology prevents terrorism. Three, I’m grossed out that the government wants to take pictures of my balls. And four”—he takes a breath—“I think the pose the person is forced to take inside the machine—hands up, like they’re being mugged—is designed to make them feel powerless and degraded.”

The TSA agent is no longer smiling. He glances around. He’s not sure if this boy is making a fool of him.

Crispin Cox is in a wheelchair parked nearby, waiting for security to swab his chair for explosives. The old man has been stewing about this. Swab his wheelchair for explosives! If he had any spare breath in his lungs at all, he would refuse. Who do these idiots think they are? Who do they think he is? Isn’t it bad enough that he has to sit in this chair and travel with a nurse? He growls, “Give the boy his goddamn pat-­down.”

The old man has been issuing demands for decades and is almost never disobeyed. The tenor of his voice breaks the agent’s indecision like a black belt’s hand through a board. He points Jordan toward another officer, who tells him to spread his legs and stick out his arms. His family watches in dismay as the man moves his hand roughly between the boy’s legs.

“How old are you?” the officer asks, when he pauses to readjust his rubber gloves.


He makes a sour face. “Hardly ever get kids doing this.”

“Who do you get?”

“Hippies, mostly.” He thinks for a moment. “Or people who used to be hippies.”

Jordan has to force his body to be still. The agent is feeling along the waistline of his jeans, and it tickles. “Maybe I’ll be a hippie when I grow up.”

“I’m finished, fifteen,” the man says. “Get out of here.”

Jordan is smiling when he rejoins his family. He takes his sneakers from his brother. “Let’s get going,” Jordan says. “We don’t want to miss our flight.”

“We’ll talk about that later,” Bruce says.

The two boys lead the way down the hall. There are windows in this corridor, and the skyscrapers of New York City are visible in the distance—man-­made mountains of steel and glass piercing a blue sky. Jane and Bruce can’t help but locate the spot where the Twin Towers used to be, the same way the tongue finds the hole where a tooth was pulled. Their sons, who were both toddlers when the towers fell, accept the skyline as it is.

“Eddie,” Jordan says, and the two boys exchange a look.

The brothers are able to read each other effortlessly; their parents are often mystified to find that Jordan and Eddie have conducted an entire conversation and come to a decision without words. They’ve always operated as a unit and done everything together. In the last year, though, Jordan has been pulling away. The way he says his brother’s name now means: I’m still here. I’ll always come back.

Eddie punches his brother in the arm and runs ahead.

Jane walks gingerly. The hand dropped by her younger son tingles at her side.

At the gate, there is more waiting to do. Linda Stollen, a young woman dressed all in white, hurries into a pharmacy. Her palms are sweaty, and her heart thumps like it’s hoping to find a way out. Her flight from Chicago arrived at midnight, and she’d spent the intervening hours on a bench, trying to doze upright, her purse cradled to her chest. She’d booked the cheapest flight possible—hence the detour to Newark—and informed her father on the way to the airport that she would never ask him for money again. He had guffawed, even slapped his knee, like she’d just told the funniest joke he’d ever heard. She was serious, though. At this moment, she knows two things: One, she will never return to Indiana, and two, she will never ask her father and his third wife for anything, ever again.

This is Linda’s second pharmacy visit in twenty-­four hours. She reaches into her purse and touches the wrapper of the pregnancy test she bought in South Bend. This time, she chooses a celebrity magazine, a bag of chocolate candies, and a diet soda and carries them to the cashier.

Crispin Cox snores in his wheelchair, his body a gaunt origami of skin and bones. Occasionally, his fingers flutter, like small birds struggling to take flight. His nurse, a middle-­aged woman with bushy eyebrows, files her fingernails in a seat nearby.

Jane and Bruce sit side by side in blue airport chairs and argue, although no one around them would suspect it. Their faces are unflustered, their voices low. Their sons call this style of parental fight “DEFCON 4,” and it doesn’t worry them. Their parents are sparring, but it’s more about communication than combat. They are reaching out, not striking.

Bruce says, “That was a dangerous situation.”

Jane shakes her head slightly. “Jordan is a kid. They wouldn’t have done anything to him. He was within his rights.”

“You’re being naïve. He was mouthing off, and this country doesn’t take kindly to that, regardless of what the Constitution claims.”

“You taught him to speak up.”

Customer Reviews

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Dear Edward (Barnes & Noble Book Club Edition) 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 67 reviews.
Wabit 7 days ago
Two great stories in one book one about the travelers on a plane soon to crash and the 12 year old survivor I couldn't put the book down!
D Arlyn Marks 10 days ago
Like other readers, I was gripped by every page. Edward's growth into a young man after feeling he has lost his life is a wonderful parable for each of us. We're all made of the same molecules. Edward learns joy in giving and being vulnerable.
Vicki Saia 15 days ago
I loved this book. It is so well written.
Linda Henderson 3 days ago
a well written story about tragedy, loss, trauma and recovery.
ilaiza aviles 8 days ago
Such a great novel. Thr story is just amazing, I enjoyed all the characters.
diane aquino 9 days ago
I loved Edwards story and this book was amazingly written!
Leslie Adams 19 days ago
It's been a very long time since I read a story I couldn't put down. The author hits home on everything we fear and want in life.
Dana Johnson 20 days ago
The author grabs the reader's attention and doesn't let go until the very end. The storyline is one of the best I have read .
Martie Record 15 hours ago
Genre: Literary FictionDear Edward Publisher: Random House Pub. Date: Jan. 14, 2020 After losing everything, a pre-teen boy discovers there are still reasons to continue living. This is just the sort of sappy novel that I usually do not care for. Surprisingly, I enjoyed and recommend “Dear Edward.” The unique writing style is what made the difference for me. The reader goes in knowing that twelve-year-old Edward’s older brother, his parents, and almost 200 other passengers will die when the plane crashes. Edward is the sole survivor. The book is divided into two timelines, the past, which is during the flight, and the present. On the plane, we get to understand the family dynamics of Edward’s immediate family. We also meet a Wall Street rising star, an unlikeable septuagenarian business billionaire who is the rising star’s role model, an unmarried young woman who takes a pregnancy test while on the plane, a wounded vet with a secret, and an uninhibited, possibly crazy woman who happens to believe in reincarnation. These well-developed characters are very much a part of Edward’s story, creating interesting storylines that are not about overcoming tragedy. This helps make the novel less fatiguing to read since the bulk of the story in the present describes Edward’s overwhelming depression. The events that occur on the flight are divided by time right down to the minute of the crash. (Boarding your next plane might feel different after reading this one). Even though we know the ending, this part of the tale still reads like a page-turning mystery. In the present, we meet a few new characters. In Edward’s new life, disagreeing with myself, there are characters that read a bit saccharine. His aunt and uncle, new best friend and high school principal are just too self-sacrificing and flawless to feel like true people. This contrasts with the realness felt in the characters from the plane ride. Still, in my mind, Napolitano’s weaving of past and present makes up for that over-sweetening. Plus, by the end of the novel, it can also read as a coming-of-age story, which is a genre I have always liked. Clearly, the novel is not all doom and gloom. By the end of the novel, as the author intended, I had a smile on my face. Heartwarming endings can be a good thing.
mandi1082 16 hours ago
Thank you Netgally and Random House for providing an ARC of this book for an honest review. Edward is the only survivor when his family and other passengers board the flight 2977 and it crashes. Edward's aunt and uncle take him in and that is when Edward decides within himself what is there to live for. He does a lot of soul searching and thinking about his past and his future. This book was wonderful. I loved how it did not only tell Edward's story but how it told stories from the other passengers. This book was so heartbreaking and had me crying. It has you thinking what if you lost everyone you loved the most would life be worth going on. Beautiful story!
mary mcintosh 1 days ago
Just finishe d thisj Janet Napalitanos' Dear Edward, and feel compelled to say that i havent read anything this powerful in a long time. It made me wonder what journey through grief and loss the author experienced 5 that allowed her to tell Edwards story of surviving a horrible tragedy. She descbes grief without naming it, survivors guilt without analysis and so much more but paints a picture with all details of the experience on full display. I imagine seeing this story on a movie screen someday where it will undoubtably lose some of the richness but i hope it happens anyway.
Carroll Allen 2 days ago
5 Stars
Cindy Clark 2 days ago
Thank you to this author. Thank you to my local Barnes and Noble for an email about the upcoming book discussion. Thank you to me for buying and reading this wonderful, magical, heart opening book.
CharlesM1 2 days ago
Good, Thought-Provoking When you lose everything in your life from one second to the next, how do you move forward? This book follows a boy Edward and his struggle to make sense of his life after a tragic plane crash. Though he gradually builds new connections, he frequently revisits his past and through the help of friends and other people in his new life, he comes to grips with his new life. I thoroughly enjoyed this book as it explored many deep questions in life.
Anonymous 3 days ago
There are certain people who have a defining moment that impact their entire life. This happens to 12 year old Edward when the plane he is in crashes and everyone dies but him. Not only do 183 people die but three of them are his parents and beloved older brother. Life changes for him forever. He must grieve, move to a new town with his aunt and uncle and change everything in his life. On top of that, the world expects so much of him. People come around just to stare at him. The families of the victims put unrealistic expectations on his shoulders. It's creepy. Luckily he makes friends with the girl next door who helps him heal. Told throughout the story is the background of the other passengers and the tale of the last flight. It makes the tragedy even more vivid and sad. It's a wonderful story of how a young boy comes to terms with unbearable circumstances and manages to go on with life. It's beautiful. Thanks to NetGalley for a copy of this book in exchange for a fair review.
BillMichalek 4 days ago
Fun, a but a little off.... First of all, let me just say that the book was generally a fun read. The author has an interesting and engaging writing style. I read it cover to cover. But the story itself is – to use that hackneyed detectives term – a little hinky. The early chapters on-board the doomed flight are a bit like a condensed and hurried Love Boat episode. A sub-set of the passengers are fleshed out enough to try to get the reader to care about them. One woman is heading towards love, another is fleeing it. A sexually conflicted war hero. A hot flight attendant. A wealthy magnate trying to hold on to greatness. However, those long ago thirty minute episodes lived to tie up the assorted dramas, usually happily. Which is impossible in this case because everyone but our protagonist Edward dies in the crash. Edward is twelve when he becomes the sole survivor of Flight 2977. His mother fortunately has a childless sister and he is immediately taken in by her and her kind husband. He soon learns that upon achieving adulthood he will receive a huge sum of a money held in trust from the airline settlement. Now, I don’t want to trivialize the trauma a pre-adolescent child would experience upon losing his entire family out of nowhere. But Edward’s response – over a period of a few years – just doesn’t play right to my ears. Certainly I would expect PTSD, night shakes, deep depression, un-natural fears, fits of rage. And yet he instead actually seems to transform into some other thing altogether. Some thing that views the world in snippets he cannot piece together. He cannot eat, or comprehend conversations. It is as if his ordeal has given him a brain that is in the spectrum of autism. He develops a very tight relationship with a rebellious and proud girl his age. She is a neighbor and he ends up spending the better part of two years sleeping on the floor of her bedroom every night. Which makes no sense to me as a real-life thing simply as a practical matter. Also they remain literally joined at the hip all through high school and yet never touch each other romantically. Again, this is as if it never crossed our heroes mind. As if the accident has transformed him into someone who doesn’t reason like a real person. I don’t know if I am explaining that very well. Again, hinky is the word. I don’t want to get into a lot of the specifics as they are plot-spoilers, but the story ultimately just sort of runs out. The resolutions the author devises are unsatisfying and we find ourselves suddenly staring at a page called Epilogue when we thought we were still knee deep in the tale. Again, a kind of fun, if somewhat odd read, that just doesn’t quite read right to me.
ka_woman 5 days ago
Such a thoughtful book on the survivor of a plane crash, 12 year old Edward Adler. The topic is very intense and the author does an amazing job of just flushing out what living means to someone who has gone though such a public and incredible accident. I found it to be incredibly realistic and believable story which I think is difficult to accomplish. It definitely made me think more about life, priorities and resilience.
Anonymous 6 days ago
Dear Edward, I believe, will be one of the biggest books of 2020. What a great book to start the year with! Told from the perspective of a child, who is the sole survivor of a plane crash, it is not in the least a childish book. Dear Edward made me cry; Dear Edward made me smile; Dear Edward made me laugh; Dear Edward gave me hope for humanity. It is one of those stories that will stay with me a long time. I wanted to reach into the pages, grab hold of Edward and give him hugs and promises; Napolitano's masterfully written prose made him vividly real to me. A tremendous, tremendous read! I will be recommending this to everyone, including strangers! Thank you to netgalley and the publisher for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous 6 days ago
This book puts you right in the place you never want to be, but cannot help being curious about. It is difficult to understand how Edward manages his new reality, but I couldn’t stop rooting for him.
Nursebookie 9 days ago
DEAR EDWARD is easily one of my best reads of 2020! The story was centered around Edward “Eddie” Adler who was the only survivor of a plane crash where 191 lives were killed. In alternating chapters, the time prior to the crash and Eddie’s present life as he is living his life as the sole survivor. The story is very realistic and takes into consideration the people affected, survivors and those left behind. The story had amazing characters that were featured during the flight from Newark to Los Angeles. You cannot help but wonder how people would lead their lives and decisions made knowing when their last moments of their lives would be. The story was realistic and believable, and well researched as well. As much as the premise of the story is quite difficult and sad, I was smiling when I finished this book. The story filled me with emotions and was left with a great sense of satisfaction on how love, understanding and resilience overcome adversities and difficulties. It was a powerful and emotional read that was also positive and hopeful. I highly recommend this book for its amazing storytelling and should not be missed. It is a reading experience that is profound – broke my heart but Napolitano found a way to stich it back up.
5539034 9 days ago
A beautifully written story of how one young man gets through it, of how any of us do.It wasn't until the end that I became aware of how fully realized the characters on the plane were, in some instances, more real to me than the main character, who necessarily is distant in his loss through much of the book. That is a tribute to the author's storytelling ability.Highly recommend.
FrancescaFB 10 days ago
kasacKC 10 days ago
Told in two timelines, this novel is an examination of regaining a reason to live after a horrendous event. The book jacket already reveals that everyone dies on flight 2977 except Edward, a 12-year old musical prodigy who along with his brother had been homeschooled in a privileged Manhattan upper east side home. One progression, post-crash, follows Edward's redemptive coming of age while suffering unimaginable grief, and the other, the minutes ticking on the doomed airbus which serves to provide backstories of several victims. What really didn't work for me was that these characters rang generic without distinctive personality. There is the mystery of what caused the crash which kept me reading, and Ann Napolitano certainly has covered that well.
SueDoeNimm_13 10 days ago
/25/2019 – Dear Edward – Net Galley – Ann Napolitano – The Dial Press/Random House – 2020 5 stars. I loved this book. It did take me a couple of chapters to “get into” it, though. Once I did, I did not want to put it down and finished it in two sittings with just a brief intermission! Edward is a 12-year-old boy who is the sole survivor of an horrific airliner crash in which 191 people lose their lives. Among those 191 are Edward’s parents and his 15-year-old brother Jordan. The boys were home schooled their entire lives by their brainy father, so they were extremely close to each other. After living their entire lives in a New York City apartment, the family was heading to Los Angeles for a new life due to mom Jane’s writing job. The crash happens over Colorado, where Edward spends the initial phase of his medical treatment and recovery. Thereafter he is eventually taken by his Aunt Lacey, his mother’s younger sister, and her husband John back to their place in New Jersey. They have no children of their own despite multiple attempts but they are determined to make a home for Edward as they are each other’s only family. Edward, being 12 years of age, is at a vulnerable time in his life even if there had been no airliner crash and the loss of his immediate family. He is treated by other people, even authority figures, as a porcelain doll and is pretty much not held accountable and not given boundaries. Everyone knows his story and whenever they venture out for physical therapy, doctor visits and counseling, Edward is subjected to stares and phone photography by multitudes of bystanders. He has made friends with the girl next door who is the same age, and he decides he wants to go to school for the first time in his life. On that first day at school, he is driven the three blocks by the neighbor because the street is lined with hundreds of people who know what he is doing, where he lives and what his schedule is. People on both sides of the streets are snapping photos of him and trying to get as close as possible. Since he is already traumatized, it does not really sink in. He actually lives in his own little bubble at this time and for some time to come. Shay is the neighbor girl, a very intelligent person mature beyond her years in many ways but with some socialization issues of her own. She has been suspended in the past for fighting with another student. Edward decides he wants to sleep in Shay’s room rather than the unused nursery that Aunt Lacey had assigned him. For some reason, the adults agree to this including Shay’s single mom Besa. I had a bit of a problem with the lack of boundaries given to this boy, but I also could see adults being afraid to impose boundaries on a newly orphaned traumatized kid recovering from major physical injuries. Ms. Napolitano uses a flashback format to tell this story. The first several chapters are of the airliner passengers of course, but after the crash, she intersperses Edward’s recovery phase with flashbacks to the airliner. She drew an amazingly interesting cast of characters on that plane including a very sensuous chief flight attendant who has an assignation with a male passenger in the restroom (room being a misnomer, as we all know they are more like cubbyholes). One of my favorite characters was Florida, a woman who is very aware of her previous many lives and startles her seatmate with her tales of life in previous historical eras. There is a v
LoveLiBooks 10 days ago
Thank you to the Dial Press and Netgalley for a copy of this ARC in exchange for my honest review. This is a beautifully written book about Edward, a 12 year old boy who is the lone survivor of a plane crash that killed his parents and brother along with 183 other passengers. He gets adopted by his aunt and uncle and finds an anchor in the form of his neighbor's daughter. With the help of Shay and the letters from the other victims' families, he begins find his sense of self and purpose for living. This one has been floating around bookstagram and it's been selected as a BOTM pick. I thought it was really well written and was hooked from the beginning. Told in alternating timelines between the present and the day of the crash, we get to read the events leading up to the crash as well as the stories behind some of the other passengers. It's a sad book but it's also a really great coming-of-age story for Edward and Shay. I was hesitant to pick it up because I knew it would be a heavy read but I'm glad I read it and definitely recommend it!