The blurb for this book didn't appeal. In week six of lockdown, in a time of global turmoil, fear and distress, why would I want to read about a teenage boy, the sole survivor of a plane crash?
After repeatedly picking up the book and putting it down again, I finally opened the first page and started reading. I'm so glad I did. This is a fantastic book!
Yes, Eddie is the sole survivor of a plane crash so he's coping with physical pain and shock, and is also grieving the loss of both his parents and his older brother. But we meet him as he's recovering, looked after by his aunt and uncle, developing a friendship with a girl his age living over the road.
The story tells of Eddie's recovery, emotionally and mentally as well as physically. It is his coming-of-age, his coming to trust the people with whom he will now build his life, and his acceptance that this is about more than survival. Slowly he needs to give himself permission to live again.
As we read of Eddie's response to the crash, the last hours of the plane's journey are interwoven through alternate chapters. It is fascinating reading about the lives of the other passengers, albeit tinged with the sadness of the tragedy about to occur. It is not a disaster-movie account. In fact the power of the book is that though it is based on death, it is, in fact, all about life.
The saddest element of the book is the 'Dear Edward' of the title. Eddie receives hundreds of letters from the families and friends of those who have died in the crash. These people plead with him to live the lives of their loved ones in their absence. He's asked to write books, to go on journeys, to undertake challenges and so on. Initially overwhelmed, Eddie comes to terms with these requests in his own way.
This is a wonderful, powerful, life-affirming, thought-provoking and enjoyable read. I cannot recommend it highly enough!