From the Stacks: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

I love when a book makes me cry.

My daughter loves it, too. She has a strange fascination with me crying. She asks me to read her books she knows will get me verklempt. She listens, ears perked for the first crack in my voice. Watches for the first tear to form, the subtle downturn of my mouth.

You can imagine her joy, then, when we learned the next book for our mommy-daughter book club was The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo.

We’d read the book together last year, and I must have cried three, four times. Much to my daughter’s delight. Evil kid.

“Once, in a house on Egypt Street, there lived a china rabbit named Edward Tulane. The rabbit was very pleased with himself, for he was owned by a girl named Abilene, who treated him with the utmost care and adorned him completely.

And then, one day, he was lost.”

The story follows Edward–a cold, self-centered rabbit–on his travels after he’s away from the loving care of Abilene.

His journey is miraculous. And the story-telling is impeccable. DiCamillo uses Edward’s travels to reveal setting and characters in a way I haven’t seen done in any other children’s book. Edward is the main character and it’s his story we’re reading; but the lives of the secondary characters are equally, if not more, compelling (read: heartbreaking) than Edward’s. The interweaving of each character’s arc with Edward’s propels the story forward to it’s tear-jerking conclusion.

The book left me so choked up I could barely read the final lines to my daughter. Much to her delight. (Have I mentioned she’s wicked?)

I learned so much as a writer reading this book. About character. Structure. Expectation and surprise. About delaying reader gratification. About breaking the reader’s heart and then providing a band-aid.

One thing the writer-me appreciated most about this book was the coda.

The what?

After those beautiful, final lines–when you think the book is done–there’s a coda. I don’t want to say much about it, because I want you to be able to experience it for yourself when you read the book (and you should read this book). But I will say this: when I closed the book, I realized I’d just learned everything I needed to know about writing a synopsis. A gem for writers, right there at the end of a great, heart-rendering read.

I love when a book teaches me how to write.

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