The Story of Edgar Sawtelle
by David Wroblewski
This is the story of Edgar Sawtelle, a mute boy, mute for unknown reasons, and his well-trained dogs.
The Sawtelles breed and raise dogs with traits so carefully established that the breed is named for them, and for posterity. The dogs are raised and trained for 18 months before finding suitable homes. This is what the Sawtelle family does for a living generation after generation. Edgar, an only child, is groomed (pardon the pun) to carry on the family business.
The story takes some twists and turns and quickly becomes a page turner. Edgar must rely on survival skills with three dogs in tow as he goes into hiding in the forest. The fact that he is hiding with three large 90-pound dogs is in itself a bit hard to fathom, but I am an accepting reader and I let my imagination follow them through their trials and tribulations.
I had questions all through the reading. For example, Edgar’s inability to speak is unexplained other than saying doctors found no explanation. Yet at one visit to a doctor, Edgar is told to speak during the examination and Edgar croaks a word and the doctor is so displeased with the sound that he tells Edgar to speak no more. Edgar is undoubtedly the smartest boy ever; we witness his keen intelligence over and over again. Why couldn’t he whisper to communicate, at least sometimes?
Edgar asked his mother how she and his father met. She answered that she would not tell him. I assumed that missing information would work its way into the story. It did not (or I slept through it, if it did).
Still, I enjoyed the story. There were times I got choked up, times I smiled, times I fretted. The storytelling captivated me, flaws and all – until the end. The ending was a disaster. Instead of tying up loose ends, instead of bringing story lines to a close, instead of resolution, a very dramatic ending has everything go up in flames, including any positive feelings I may have had for this book.