What I'm Reading
A boy is the sole survivor of a plane crash. Why him? Is he 'the chosen one' like Harry Potter?
The twelve year old struggles with his identity. There are two lives in this story - before the crash and after the crash. He even uses two names. He was Eddie before and Edward after. Before, he was part of a family with parent and a brother and simply an ordinary boy no one was interested in. Afterwards his family consists of an aunt and uncle and everyone wants to know him. For a while he is a celebrity, an oddity. Then comes resentment. Why is he so special?
To continue this theme, the story is split into two narratives. One is aboard the plane as it goes through its final journey, looking at some of the issues of a few characters, considering their life choices and ambitions, as one does on long flights. The other is how Edward copes with his new life where absolutely nothing of his old life remains. He is cut off from the media intrusion by his uncle's protective hiding of letters, documents and social media and news coverage. Edward finds a way to cut off his thoughts and feelings by creating an internal sheet in a similar way.
A few years pass and the boy matures to realise that he is not 'the chosen one' and this leaves him to decide what his purpose is. This is an intense and deeply moving journey, written with the minimal of sentiment and yet is both emotional and cerebral. Written mainly from the child's perspective the emerging thoughts and philosophies come across authentically lateral. The other advantage of this point of view is that the legal, medical and technical aspects of the story can be skimmed over realistically.
In the end we find out why the plane crashed and how Edward was found. The epilogue ties up the whole story and leaves plenty to think about. An original, well-written and poignant story, about survival, identity, guilt and purpose; expertly told and a pleasure to read.
Published by Penguin Books Viking on 20 February 2020. Advanced review copy supplied by the publisher.