Irresistible reading (4 stars)
Published by Amazon Publishing, April 3rd 2013
Source- personal copy
I read the Kindle edition, the paperback is 307 pages
Last year I read a real gem of a book: ‘600 Hours of Edward’ by Craig Lancaster. I genuinely adored it and fell completely in love with its protagonist, Edward Stanton. Edward has Aspergers and OCD and his life is all about continuity, including watching daily (numbered) episodes of Dragnet, the meals he eats on specific days of the week and counting down his routines to the last scheduled second, especially logging the time he awakens each day. He is a real creature of habit and even maintains daily logs of the weather in Billings, Montana, where he resides. Needless to say, by the time I’d finished it, Edward felt like a real person to me and I knew that should a follow-up be on the horizon then I would definitely read it.
Edward Adrift is the sequel to 600 Hours of Edward and I was so excited to start it, keen to see how his life had changed since the first book. And indeed, go on a journey Edward really does- both in the literal and metaphorical sense. It was so great catching up with this sweet, adorable guy and seeing his battle to be more assertive, to relate to others, as well as his coping strategies with his problems. The theme of this novel explores Edward taking a real leap of faith; the question is whether or not he can actually bring himself to do so.
The storyline is set three years after 600 Hours…. and begins with Edward unfortunately losing his job, which is upsetting in ordinary circumstances, but to an Aspergers sufferer this disruption in routine is a complete calamity. His work was some sort of tether and focus, both to other people and his habits and without it he is at a complete loss and just doesn’t know what to do. One of his Dragnet tapes has also been severed by his VCR and watching it online just doesn’t work for him as well, so this is another habit that he has abandoned. Even his therapist is retiring and his best friend Donna and her son Kyle have moved away: things just aren’t going too well in Edward’s life; he is having a real ‘shitburger’ of a year (as he terms it).
So what can pull Edward out of his funk and stop him feeling so adrift? Going to stay with Donna and Kyle in Idaho- and a road trip might make him feel better, perhaps…?
Without giving away any spoilers, I really loved this book. It explores not only the problems faced by sufferers of Aspergers and OCD, but also how people around them treat them. Edward is much misunderstood as an individual, particularly as just from looking at him, his developmental struggles cannot be perceived. He has some potentially destructive compulsions and these were handled remarkably well throughout the story. I also really appreciated Edward’s relationships with others in this book, which have grown in both depth and quantity since 600 Hours.
This book is so funny in places too, though not in a cruel way and it actually gives a really good insight into the minds of people who suffer from both Aspergers and OCD. It beautifully recognises Edward’s inability to take words as anything other than in the literal sense, which results in some amusing circumstances. As it is told from a first person perspective too, you delve right into Edward’s head and seeing things from his viewpoint allows for some great comedic moments as he tries to (sensibly and rationally) look at situations from other people’s point of view.
Edward Adrift is poignant and perhaps a bit darker than I had anticipated. Aspects surrounding Kyle and Donna in their new home in Idaho added a lot of weight to the plot and it was fascinating reading about Edward and his reactions to a new, more grown-up Kyle who is having problems of his own, and how they reconnected with one another once more. Though this made up a great chunk of the storyline though, I would have perhaps liked to see a bit of a clearer resolution with it at the end, it felt a little bit glossed over.
Though I enjoyed this book greatly, I personally found the first one to be slightly more enjoyable. Though this novel does indeed catch you up with events that have occurred since then, I must admit that I found myself wanting to know more: about Kyle and Donna and exactly how Edward handled them moving away from him and other things that had happened to him in the intervening 3 years. My advice would also be to definitely read these books in their intended order.
I have my fingers and toes crossed that there is another Edward book on the horizon soon, as it goes without saying that I will be reading it!