Publish Date: February 27, 2020
“Since death is certain but the time of death is uncertain, what is the most important thing?” – Pema Chodron
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 is a Wall Street wunderkind, a young woman coming to terms with an unexpected pregnancy, an injured vet returning from Afghanistan, a septuagenarian business tycoon, and a free-spirited woman running away from her controlling husband. And then, tragically, the plane crashes. Edward is the sole survivor.
Edward’s story captures the attention of the nation, but he struggles to find a place for himself in a world without his family. He continues to feel that a piece of him 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 find yourself? How do you discover your purpose? What does it mean not just to survive, but to truly live?
This book is as heartbreaking and a tear-inducing as I expected, and it’s a mesmerizing story about love, family, trauma, grief, and hope.
When I started this story, I knew that it is about a 12 year old boy who is the sole survivor of a plane crash that killed 191 people. I was not prepared for the beautiful writing, the deeply layered characters, or the sorrow that I would experience. It blew me away.
The story has two focuses: the passengers, the events, and hours leading up to the plane crash; and Edward’s life after the crash. It switches back and forth throughout the book. Each time the focused switched, I felt a little sad to leave it.
The stories about the people on the plane were fascinating. The passengers are a diverse array of characters from all walks of life. It was a bit bothersome knowing that all of the these people were going to die and it was very poignant.
Edward’s life after the crash was captivating. The people that surround him, support him, and embrace him are unforgettable. Edward may have survived the crash, but the grief and trauma that he experiences made my heart ache for him. The relationship that he develops with Shay, the girl who lives next door, brings a ray of hope into the story. This book made me cry many times.
My favorite quotes:
“So much could be solved if we simply held hands with each other more often.”
“You’ll never be a normal kid.”
“He’d convinced himself something between them was broken, when in truth the broken thing was him.”
“Flying is safer. People are also helped by etiquette; because commercial air travel is public, a kind of group confidence comes into play. People take comfort in each other’s presence. Sitting side by side, shoulder to shoulder, they believe that it is impossible for this many people to have taken a foolish risk at the same time.”
“He knows that the smallest, truest reason he will never fly again is that the last airplane seat he ever sits in has to be the one beside his brother.”
This book is about survival, memories, pain, loss, and healing. It’s moving and profound. You don’t find out until the end about what caused the crash. I loved how the story was interspersed with the passengers (then) and Edward (now) which helped break up the grief and lend a lighter mood to the book at times.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Note: I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley exchange for an honest review.