Book Club: Dear Edward

It’s that time again! It is time to give you my review of my book club pick for February.  I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed this month’s book so much.  It is a very daunting task for me to choose a book each month from just reviews and the publisher’s description of the book.  It takes me a good bit of time to find one that I think will be enjoyable for me and you all.  For February I chose a New York Times Best Seller entitled Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano.  I wasn’t sure if I was going to really like it or not when I chose it, but I am really glad that I did. I think it was well written and I felt a strong attachment to all of the characters.  The author did a great job of portraying all sides of the story and made you feel like you were there with them at times.    

This story revolved around a young 12-year-old boy, Edward, whose family was preparing to move across the country from New York to Los Angeles.  They had packed all of their belongings and sent them on a truck ahead of them to California.  On moving day, they set off to the airport very early for their long flight.  Little did they know the tragedy that lied ahead.  Several hours into the flight, something unthinkable happened.  The plane crashed in a field in Colorado killing the 191 passengers and flight crew on board.  Edward was the sole survivor.  He lost both his parents, his older brother, and a piece of himself in that field.  The story delves into Edward’s life following the crash while at the same time also chronicling the events that occurred during the hours the plane was in the air prior to its demise.  Napolitano gave a good look into the lives of many of the other passengers on the plane including their backgrounds and last hours alive.  The story also depicted the impact that this tragedy had on all the loved ones left behind, many of whom had written letters to Edward in the months and years following the crash. Those letters had a deep impact on Edward’s healing and his ability to move on.  I love this except from the book because it really shows the burden Edward felt as the only survivor.  

“The letters always referred to the weight he had to carry, and he’d thought of it that way himself: He had to carry the burden of so many lost lives.  He had to make it up to the people who died.  It was him pulling 191 dead people, like a fallen parachute, in his wake. But if the passengers are part of his makeup, and all time and people are interconnected, then the people on the plane exist, just like he exists.  The present is infinite, and Flight 2977 flies on, far above him, hidden by clouds.”

I very much enjoyed this story and think that Napolitano did an excellent job in her portrayal of each person involved.  This was a story of love, loss, tragedy, friendship, and healing all wrapped into one.  I tried to put myself in the shoes of not only Edward, but also of all of the other characters who lost their lives and those who were left behind experiencing tremendous grief. I found it very hard to imagine what it would have been like to be each one of them in the midst of this tragedy.  It was heart breaking to think of each of those passengers and what they were feeling in those last seconds before the plane was crumbled to pieces and what Edward had to suffer as a result.  While this is a fictional story, the idea of it came from actual, real-life plane crashes, one of which had only one child survive.  Again, I really enjoyed this story and highly recommend it if you haven’t read it yet.  

My pick for March is a book that was just released at the beginning of February entitled When Time Stopped by Ariana Neumann.  This is a memoir written by a daughter about her father’s secret past during the Holocaust and sounds so interesting to me.  Here is what Publishers Weekly had to say about this book.

“Neumann, a former foreign correspondent for Venezuela’s Daily Journal, debuts with a deeply moving account of her father’s life during the Holocaust. Growing up as a girl of privilege in Caracas, Venezuela, Neumann formed a Nancy Drew type sleuthing club with friends. By accident, she came across a box containing papers and other documents for a man named Jan Sebesta, but with a photo of her father, Hans. Soon, though, the box disappeared. It would be decades before Neumann rediscovered the photo, and it proved to be the springboard for a spy-worthy story of her now-deceased father surviving the Holocaust by living in plain sight in Berlin under an assumed identity. By pouring over letters sent to her father from Terezin, a Nazi concentration camp near Prague, Neumann learns that of 34 members of the Neumann family living in Czechoslovakia during WWII, 25 were killed by the Nazis. Using the letters as well as those written by her father, she searches for and meets cousins she didn’t know existed, who help fill in details, such as that her “father was a valued member of the fire brigade” in 1944. This gripping, expertly researched narrative will inspire those looking to uncover their own family histories.”

Will you come along and read with me?

Anchored in a Good Book,

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