Born mute, speaking only in sign, Edgar Sawtelle leads an idyllic life with his parents on their farm in remote northern Wisconsin. For generations, the Sawtelles have raised and trained a fictional breed of dog whose thoughtful companionship is epitomized by Almondine, Edgar's lifelong friend and ally. But with the unexpected return of Claude, Edgar's paternal uncle, turmoil consumes the Sawtelles' once peaceful home. When Edgar's father dies suddenly, Claude insinuates himself into the life of the farm—and into Edgar's mother's affections.
Grief-stricken and bewildered, Edgar tries to prove Claude played a role in his father's death, but his plan backfires—spectacularly. Forced to flee into the vast wilderness lying beyond the farm, Edgar comes of age in the wild, fighting for his survival and that of the three yearling dogs who follow him. But his need to face his father's murderer and his devotion to the Sawtelle dogs turn Edgar ever homeward.
It's taken me three days of thinking about this book to decide what rating to give it. In the three days since I've finished it, the story has stuck with me and that doesn't happen often. There are so many things I loved about the book. I loved the writing. I loved the characterization. I loved the story. So, why didn't I give it five stars? Well, as much as I loved all that, I had a few issues. ***Spoilers Ahead*** First of all, I wish the author had finished the part of the story about Forte. He was brought into the story making you think he had an important part to play and then that part of the story didn't really go anywhere. Also, why was Claude the way he was? What started all the problems between him and Gar? We were told about the dogfights, but that was it. I just feel like I needed a little more back story there. I felt the story was just a little too slow paced. I like long books, but this one took me way longer to read than other books I've read the same size. And last but certainly not least, I was a bit let down by the ending. I know it's a tragedy and I didn't expect a happy ending, but I still feel a little let down. I guess I expected more of a confrontation between Edgar and Claude or something.***End Spoilers***
In the end I decided to give the book 4 stars since I did enjoy the story so much. I think this is one story that will stick with me for awhile. Overall, a great debut. If you've heard the rumors about the similarities to Hamlet, they are definitely there and not subtle either.