The Story of Edgar Sawtelle wraps itself around you like a warm blanket that you don’t want to leave. In fact I put it down for a week as I neared the end because I knew I would mourn its loss. This type of book doesn’t come around often but when it does it reaffirms my joy in reading.
Set in a small Wisconsin town in the seventies, Gar and Trudy meet and marry. They take over the family business of breeding and training a special breed of dogs that are so high in demand people are willing to spend thousands of dollars on one. They treat each dog as special and spend inordinate amounts of time training them. They have one extra special dog named Almondine who lives with them in the house. After experiencing a miscarriage Gar and Trudy finally have a child. Edgar is born perfectly normal except he cannot speak. After years of trying to figure out a cause, to no avail, the Sawtelles' learn sign language and teach it to young Edgar. Edgar grows up with Almondine as his best friend and learns the family business. Edgar begins to teach his own litter by communicating with them through sign language.
But alas the family’s peaceful existence is interrupted by Gar’s brother Claude. Soon there is a terrible tragedy and Edgar takes off with three of his dogs in tow. The novel switches gears at this point as we follow Edgar and the dogs' trials of living on their own. Once Edgar decides to go back home my heart was in my throat knowing his decision might not turn out well - and my heart stayed there to the end.
David Wroblewski’s writing is reminiscent of Dickens. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle is a big novel with an even bigger heart. At the heart is Edgar, an amazing character written so real you can feel his pain and triumphs. Your heart will break for Almondine, whether you are a dog lover or not. David even writes from the dog's point of view which was one of my favorite chapters. Stephen King endorsed this book and this is the third book he has praised that I have absolutely. I say it’s time for him to have his own book club - so move over Oprah, the King is in town.