The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski

2008
08.10

sawtelleThis epic story of a lonely boy, his loyal dog, and his family’s betrayal at the hands of his bitter uncle has haunted me (in a good way) since I read it, and I hope it will resonate with some of you as well. Set in rural 1970’s Wisconsin and employing some of the same elements as Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the novel explores the inner life of mute boy Edgar Sawtelle and his family’s amazing fictional breed of near-mind-reading dog, simply called the Sawtelle dogs. (You can’t get one, because they don’t exist, but by the end of the book, you’ll want one!) Edgar’s life raising and training dogs on his family’s farm is idyllic until his father dies suddenly and Edgar suspects his uncle was involved. Determined to bring the man to justice, Edgar makes several crucial decisions that will change the course of his life and the fate of the Sawtelle dogs. Now, just because this buzz book is going to be all the rage in your mother’s book club next year is no reason to dismiss it out of hand. Trust me, underneath all the heaps of praise from frou-frou literary critics, a passionate, frustrated heart of adolescent angst beats at the center of this big book. (And don’t complain about the length, either. You ran right out and bought that monstrously huge Stephanie Meyer book, and didn’t even blink at the number of pages of the last Harry Potter. I just don’t buy that “I don’t read books this long” argument anymore.) So drop by your local library and grab it off the best-seller table or your dad’s desk and have at it. Then come back here and tell me about it…

7 Responses to “The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski”

  1. I had seen this advertised as literary fiction, so thanks for the heads up that it might be appropriate for YA readers as well.

  2. Jen Hubert says:

    Maybe not for every teen reader, but definitely for those who liked books like The Historian.

  3. Kathy says:

    OMG, I can’t believe Oprah just picked this for her next book!! I’m a middle school librarian who’s been reading your site for boy picks, girl books, tear jerkers, and YA/Adult reads. I just bought this book, along with Crazy School, I Love You, Beth Cooper, Project X, Kiss My Book, and Before I Die. I also bought some books for school! You Rock! Keep up the good work. I’ve passed this site on to all of our English teachers.

  4. Jen Hubert says:

    OMG, I can’t either!;) David Wroblewski is a happy man tonight:) Thanks for the kudos, Kathy! And please pass the site along to your students as well, I’m always looking for more teens to add their comments to my reviews. Thanks again and take care–

  5. bjneary says:

    I read this book, LOVED IT, and have passed it along to many other people! Wroblewski’s writing and characterization are beautiful and I just loved all those dogs. YA readers will love this saga of a boy and his dogs!

  6. Juliana says:

    What a great book! A must read for all dog lovers. I read this for my 7th grade summer reading, and had no difficulty!

  7. Jen Hubert says:

    That’s great, Juliana. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this to 7th graders, but we actually teach HAMLET in 6th grade at my school, so I’m glad you dove in, took a chance and liked it!

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Jen Hubert Swan
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