Edgar Sawtelle, born mute at birth, utilizes his deep bond with dogs to heal after the death of his father. Edgar Sawtelle, a young boy growing up on a family-owned dog-breeding ranch, is very close to his mother and father, the only family he has--or so he thought. His father's younger brother shows up on the ranch one day, disturbing the families deeply ingrained routines of breeding and intensively training dogs known as "Sawtelle dogs". Edgar, who is given increasing responsibility in naming the freshly-birthed pups, is wary of his uncle, as is Edgar's life-long friend, Almondine the dog.
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One evening when Edgar's uncle and mother aren't home, Edgar is in the closed loft of the dog barn training the first litter that has ever officially been called his. Hearing something strange, Edgar goes downstairs and finds his father lying on the ground, conscious but unresponding. Edgar, who was born mute for reasons unknown, frantically tries to call 911 and a close family friend, the town's veterinarian. Unfortunately, Edgar's father had a massive brain aneurysm and passed away.
Edgar, furious with himself that he was unable to do anything to save his father because of his disability--despite the fact that even if he could talk, his efforts would have been futile--increasingly draws into himself, only enjoying the company of his best friend Almondine. His mother, distraught over her husband's death and her son's withdrawal, quickly falls for her late husband's brother.
In his grief, Edgar begins to convince himself that his uncle murdered his own brother in order to marry his now widowed wife. Edgar begins to hallucinate, seeing his father's form between raindrops, trying to communicate with him. Edgar, frightened of the implications of his father's supposed murder, flees with the litter he had been training in the loft the day his father died. He runs away into the surrounding woods with the three dogs, leaving Almondine behind because he believes she is too old to comfortably survive with him.
After long weeks of raiding summer vacation cabins for food, Edgar returns home to find that Almondine his passed away, his mother and uncle are now married, and he still cannot talk. After having an epiphany in his weeks-long hiatus, however, he now understand the reasons behind his mother remarrying, and no longer believes his uncle killed his father.
Best part of story, including ending:
I loved the fact that, unlike most books today, this book did not over-do the amount of dialogue. Reflecting the fact that Edgar has never uttered a word or cry in his life, this book has an extreme amount of detail and not very much dialogue. It goes extremely in-depth about Edgar's thoughts and observations.
Best scene in story:
My favorite scene in this entire book occurs shortly after Edgar's father dies, but before he runs away. It is storming, and Edgar is standing outside the dog barn with Almondine. He begins to believe his eyes are playing tricks on him, because there are certain areas directly in front of him in which rain is not falling. He looks closer--or rather, withdraws his focus--and sees the bigger picture: the areas in which the rain isn't falling is the outline of his father. The outline--the absence of rain--slowly walks towards Edgar, pointing to a spot on the ground. This scene is written in such amazing detail it is impossible not to picture it happening in front of you. This scene depicts the dawn of Edgar's belief that his uncle murdered his father.
Opinion about the main character:
There is nothing I dislike about the character of Edgar Sawtelle. He is extremely developed in the beginning of the story and is in no way a static character; he continues to develop throughout the story.