2020 Penguin Random House Audio
Read by Cassandra Campbell
Finished on July 29, 2021
Rating: 4/5 (Very Good)
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?
I used to be afraid of flying, but there were several years that I flew a lot and I ultimately overcame that fear. It's been close to five years since I was last on an airplane and, if I can help it, I have no desire to travel that way again. It's not so much the worry of crashing as much as all the time spent getting to and from the airports, the waiting around for flights (and luggage), and the general inconvenience and rude passengers. My husband feels the same, and now that we own a motorhome, there really isn't a reason to ever fly again. (Of course, there are always family situations that come up that may require us to be somewhere quickly, but given a choice, we'd rather take our time and go in the RV.) So, this story, which is centered around the events leading up to a plane crash, didn't scare me the way it once might have. I was able to listen to the panic in the pilots' voices and not feel anxious, perhaps because those passages take place at the end of the novel, so there were no big surprises.
Napolitano's novel alternates between the experience of the passengers on the flight (including the details leading up to the crash) and that of Edward and the years following the crash when he was taken in by his aunt and uncle. The characters are believable and I loved the developing friendship between Edward and Shay, who is wise beyond her years.
Cassandra Campbell is one of my favorite audiobook readers and, as always, her performance was outstanding. There was never any doubt as to which character was speaking, each were so perfectly depicted.