Following the life of a boy born without a voice, “The Story of Edgar Sawtelle” highlights hardships in life and the relationships a young boy develops with his dogs.
Born into a family who breeds dogs, Edgar Sawtelle learns to overcome his missing voice through intimate interactions with his dogs that, more often than not, supersede relationships that are formed with humans.
Author David Wroblewski discovers the dedicated friendship a boy can develop with an animal, focusing on the dedication and love it takes to actually teach a dog and keep them loyal. Wroblewski’s explanations are thorough, and the story unfolds unexpectedly, drawing readers in.
Each character is given a voice and by intertwining individual narratives, Wroblewski builds a strong novel that delves into emotional family situations.
The dog breeding business is so intricate that Edgar had to learn the business quickly and soon had the responsibility of raising his own litter of puppies. Because of the complex process that it takes to raise a litter, each member of the family had their own specific tasks.
When Edgar’s father dies, Wroblewski throws the mother/son pair into increasingly difficult situations. Since the business was such a difficult thing to keep up, the loss of one member of the family was a blow mentally and financially. The pair must reassign each task in order to keep the business running and survive while learning to cope with the death of a loved one.
The ways Edgar deals versus the way his mother does is contrasted drastically, emphasizing the disability that inhibits Edgar in some ways and cuts his mother out in others.
A family reduced to two, with one who cannot talk, draws out the worst difficulties. Wroblewski discovers the strength it took for Edgar’s mother to overcome her husband’s death and deal with her now withdrawn son.
As Edgar’s mother finds new love, a murder mystery unfolds surrounding Edgar’s father’s death. This conflict creates an aspect of the story that is completely opposite of what is expected from the start of the novel, but the effect is not negative.
Rather, the conflict creates an interesting twist that leads Edgar in a different direction,and enhances the decisions in his life as well as his interactions with his mother.
Wroblewski intertwines other lives with those of Edgar’s family and explores the impacts the dogs have had on others. These connections enrich the story, generating a personal atmosphere that enhances the characters.
The novel develops each character thoroughly, including the individual dogs. This added touch boosts the narrative and adds an aspect to the story line that would otherwise be unreached.
Wroblewski succeeds in bringing to life a boy who must deal with love and loss extremely early in his life. The added aspect of a mystery makes the story line much more intense and emotional, creating an enthralling story.
Staff writer Kelly Bleck can be reached at verve@collegian.