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Born mute, speaking only in sign, Edgar Sawtelle leads an idyllic life with his parents on their farm in remote northern Wisconsin. For generations, the Sawtelles have raised and trained a fictional breed of dog whose thoughtful companionship is epitomized by Almondine, Edgar's lifelong friend and ally. But with the unexpected return of Claude, Edgar's paternal uncle, turmoil consumes the Sawtelles' once peaceful home. When Edgar's father dies suddenly, Claude insinuates himself into the life of the farm—and into Edgar's mother's affections.

Grief-stricken and bewildered, Edgar tries to prove Claude played a role in his father's death, but his plan backfires—spectacularly. Forced to flee into the vast wilderness lying beyond the farm, Edgar comes of age in the wild, fighting for his survival and that of the three yearling dogs who follow him. But his need to face his father's murderer and his devotion to the Sawtelle dogs turn Edgar ever homeward.

David Wroblewski is a master storyteller, and his breathtaking scenes—the elemental north woods, the sweep of seasons, an iconic American barn, a fateful vision rendered in the falling rain—create a riveting family saga, a brilliant exploration of the limits of language, and a compulsively readable modern classic.

Topics: Love, Grief, Wisconsin, Midwestern America, Rural, Bildungsroman, Retellings, Debut, 1970s, Magical Realism, Gothic, Animal Narrator, Multiple Perspectives, Domestic, Dark, Tragic, Emotional, Dogs, Family, Coming of Age, Animals, and Magic

Published: HarperCollins on Oct 13, 2009
ISBN: 9780061792595
List price: $5.99
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this book is amazing read more
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Loved the book but the ending was unsatisfying.read more
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I had high hopes for The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, but I must confess its purported charm was completely lost on me. Some of the prose was indeed lovely, but the book itself was overlong and most of the scenes were drawn out in tedious detail. I found myself skimming not only paragraphs, but entire pages waiting for the narrative thread to reappear and for the story to continue. I know I'm in the minority with this opinion, but I'd say pass on this book.read more
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this book is amazing
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Loved the book but the ending was unsatisfying.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I had high hopes for The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, but I must confess its purported charm was completely lost on me. Some of the prose was indeed lovely, but the book itself was overlong and most of the scenes were drawn out in tedious detail. I found myself skimming not only paragraphs, but entire pages waiting for the narrative thread to reappear and for the story to continue. I know I'm in the minority with this opinion, but I'd say pass on this book.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This debut coming-of-age novel, set in rural Wisconsin, is a modern take on Hamlet. The protagonist, 14-year-old Edgar, is mute and communicates with a unique mix of sign and body language. He lives a peaceful life with his parents on the family farm, breeding and raising Sawtelle dogs as thoughtful companions. But when Edgar’s uncle returns, Edgar’s world is tragically upended. The plot and its conflicts are complex as a grief-stricken Edgar struggles to prove his uncle’s role in his father's death. When his plan backfires, Edgar take offs into the wilderness, fighting for survival with three dogs in tow. But his need to face his father's murderer pulls Edgar toward home: “He’d left in confusion, but his return was clarifying. So much of what had been obscure while he faced away was now evident. … So much of the world was governed by chance. … Life was a swarm of accidents waiting in the treetops, descending upon any living thing that passed, ready to eat them alive. You swam in a river of chance and coincidence. You clung to the happiest accidents—the rest you let float by. … Some things were certain—they had already happened—but the future would not be divined. … The future was no ally. A person had only his life to barter with” (p. 458).The author’s style and setting reveal breathtaking scenes---the woods throughout the seasons, an iconic American barn, an ominous vision in the falling rain--create a mesmerizing family saga that explores the limits of the spoken word. And—spoiler alert—as with Hamlet and other Shakespearian tragedies, we are left with only a witness in the end.My hope is that this will win the 2009 William C. Morris YA Debut Award, whose criteria are to “illuminate the teen experience and enrich the lives of its readers through its excellence, demonstrated by compelling, high quality writing and/or illustration; the integrity of the work as a whole; its proven or potential appeal to a wide range of teen readers.”
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If you want to read a modern American classic, this is it.One of the most prevalent feelings I had after closing The Story of Edgar Sawtelle was that very rarely does a book encompass all of a main character's life, without leaving anything out. When it does you feel like you truly know the character. If nothing else, getting to know Edgar Sawtelle made this book worth reading.Of course there are many other reasons, many of which I'm not going to get into. This is a book you want to know as little about before you start reading. In fact, don't even read the inside of the dust jacket, because it gives too much away. Here are the few things you need to know:1. Have a box of tissues handy. I'm not usually one to read a book I know will make me cry, which is why I stay away from many books that feature dogs as predominant characters. However, the way in which David Wroblewski shows you the life on a farm that breeds "the future of dogs" was incredible. Wroblewski knows dogs, inside and out. He can characterize them so that you feel you know them, you grew up with them, and you never want to let them go. Hence the tissues.2. This book is long. Coming in at 566 pages, this is no easy weekend read. Then again, once you start you won't want to stop. And the length is necessary to tell the whole story, and to tell it well. At the end I felt I really knew Edgar and his family, and I understood where each of the characters was coming from. Yes, even the dogs.3. This book has everything. Mystery, murder, coming-of-age, adventure. It even has a bit of a ghost story. Whatever you're looking for, you'll find it here.And that's really all you need to know. Anything else would be too much. 5 out of 5 stars. If you haven't read this book already, go get it now.
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Boy who cannot speak loses father and tries to understand how he died and who caused his death. They own a kennel with dogs they have bred and trained for interacting with humans in a way very different than what we know. I kept thinking I didn't like it as much as I thought I would, but every time I picked it up to read more I found myself falling right back into the story. The really stange but wonderful thing is that I just finished reading a book my grandson had ordered from the Scholastic Book Club and wanted his Grandpa and myself to read--Hachiko Waits by Leslea Newman. If not for that, I wouldn't have understood that part of the story at all. Hachiko Waits is a very good book for 9 to 12 year olds. Funny how everything is connected in some way.
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