I don’t care much for dogs. I think of ghosts, tornadoes and fires as cheapshot plot devices. I can’t quite believe that a kid can be mute but not deaf. And I loved The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, which features a mute-but-not-deaf hero, lots of dogs, talking (!) ghosts, a tornado, and a fire as the finale. Go figure.
Don’t be daunted by the 550 pages. This book keeps you turning the pages (sometimes right over the details of dog training, to be honest) as Edgar’s life unfolds, pristinely quiet and protected at first, then turned into a mystery and survival story when his father dies and his uncle becomes a suspect in his death, not to mention his mother’s lover.
While he tells an engrossing story, David Wroblewski writes about the many layers in apparently tranquil relationships: the way his parents love but push Edgar, the small-town protectiveness of the vet towards him and his mother (or is it a more self-interested motive?), and the hands-off and deep friendship of Henry, a character that Edgar meets in the last third of the book. A great book.