** The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski (2008)

There is much to love about this book, but in the end, it brings a bit of frustration as well.  The story centers around Edgar, a mute boy, and his parents, dog breeders, and their life in rural upper Wisconsin.  So much in this novel is fresh and unique–Edgar’s character, the information and history about breeding, Edgar’s relationship with Henry, the Hamlet-ish element to the narrative.  And so much of the writing is beautiful and compelling, especially the many dog scenes where we feel like we’re right there with Edgar or Trudy and the dogs whether they’re in the runs, the whelping room, or the open fields.  Another unique element of the novel is the narrative voice, especially the way Wroblewski takes us into Almondine’s (Edgar’s own dog) head, giving us her point of view.  Sort of like a talking dog, but not exactly.  So why was I frustrated with a book I couldn’t put down, a book that has so many lovely elements to the story?  In the end, there were just so many gaps in the plotline.  Subplots were developed in detail and then dropped.  Characters, especially Claude, were not developed enough to warrant some of their actions, and too many things just didn’t seem to fit or felt unfinished.  The more I think about the book, the more questions I have and the more holes I discover.  It feels like it needed better editing to weed out unimportant details and to beef up other details that later become significant.  Yet, I loved it.  Isn’t that weird?

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