Mr. Wroblewski puts Edgar on a warm, cozy, paw-boxing basis with the Sawtelle dogs by rendering the boy mute from birth. Although Edgar’s condition is a terrible liability at certain crucial plot junctures, it is more often a blessing. Edgar speaks his own private sign language to people and dogs alike. He has no trouble making himself understood to his loved ones, whether they have two legs or four … One of Mr. Wroblewski’s most impressive accomplishments here is to exert a strong, seemingly effortless gravitational pull. The reader who has no interest in dogs, boys or Oedipal conflicts of the north woods of Wisconsin will nonetheless find these things irresistible. Pick up this book and expect to feel very, very reluctant to put it down.
Here is a big-hearted novel you can fall into, get lost in and finally emerge from reluctantly, a little surprised that the real world went on spinning while you were absorbed … Most of the story comes to us through a masterful, transparent voice: The author, the narrator, the pages -- everything fades away as we're drawn into this engrossing tale. But there are also a few inventive variations. Once in a while, we see events from a dog's point of view, in a strangely humane but inhuman perspective. Another chapter is made up of Edgar's first memories as a baby and toddler, and there's a chilling section told from the murderer's perspective … The final section gathers like a furious storm of hope and retribution that brings young Edgar to a destiny he doesn't deserve but never resists.
By borrowing the plot of the most famous play in history, Wroblewski is sacrificing much of the suspense; after all, we know how Hamlet ends. To compensate, Wroblewski seeks to impress the reader with feats of literary legerdemain … The Story of Edgar Sawtelle is, all at once, a mystery, a thriller, a ghost story and a literary tour de force. Just as the Sawtelles seek inner meaning in the bloodlines of a dog, the author invites us to see signs and portents in every tragedy that befalls the star-crossed family … The Story of Edgar Sawtelle is an authentic epic, long and lush, full of back story and observed detail.