The Story Of Edgar Sawtelle

I just finished reading The Story Of Edgar Sawtelle. It’s a book I resisted for quite awhile, at least partly because Bookdwarf was so enthusiastic about it, and I just didn’t want to admit that she’s always right about these sorts of things.

Another factor that scared me off was that the book contains dogs. That immediately makes me think it’s one of those dog books – you know, of interest only to dog fanciers. It’s not. I’m pretty sure that people who like anything with dogs in it will like this book. After all, it contains dogs. But it’s not the sort of thing that appeals only to them. It will also appeal to novel-lovers. It’s a tale of family and secrets and betrayal, a northern Wisconsin sort of Hamlet mixed with Lear, a story of almosts, of near-breakthroughs in communication and understanding and perfection.

“The Story Of Edgar Sawtelle” uses the relationships – sometimes beautifully tender and joyful – between people and dogs to reflect more clearly the relationship between humans. Just as even imperfect communication between humans and dogs requires years of training and practice, the mute Edgar is stymied by his own imperfect understanding of the world and by other people’s inability to grasp what he’s saying. And of course, more generally, everyone fails to communicate or hides what should most be unearthed and shared.

No, there’s no happy ending there. Nice dogs, though.

476 thoughts on “The Story Of Edgar Sawtelle”

  1. I had just got a copy of this book and was starting to read it in a restaurant when a stranger told me he liked the book but he hated the ending. I enjoyed the book but the ending was so flawed that I would never reccommend this book to anyone. It’s obvious the writer has talent but not enough experience to write a complete novel. Thumbs down.

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  2. Just finished this book, and although at first I thought the ending was a disappointment, when you think about it, things don’t always have happy endings. If this book ended differently, would you feel the same about it a year or 10 years from now? Some books or stories just stay with you for years…one that comes to mind is Stephen King’s Green Mile series or even the recent Duma Key. Some answers to life’s questions have many variations, and some answers we are never meant to know. This is true in life, and this book reflects that. Take it for what it’s worth. I personally think if we had the fairy tale ending, then The Story of Edgar Sawtelle wouldn’t be nearly worthy of telling. I love a book that gets you thinking, and this was a great, great book!!

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  3. I finished this book back in Feburary or so and being left with so many conflicting emotions I, like most here , reached out to find something to help me understand. This blog was helpful and continues to be. The novel as it is , is well written. Long perhaps but all the higher literary aspects are there. After these months though , the novel has become less the piece of magic I thought it was and more a metaphor for my life which is what i think the author most likely intended in the first place. I doubt he thought his novel would attract such attention. In the end the novel suggests we can be better people, should be better peple. Should pay closer attention to those among us who have no voice and to give room to all creatures to breathe and grow. Listen to the wiser among us and watch closely those who keep secrets. Most of all never give up on those who love us and those we love. The ending aside I enjoyed the book but won’t go back to read it again but have recomended it to others after not doing so for awhile…Be Well….

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  4. I finished the book a few months ago. To me, the sign of a great book is whether it stays with me and affects my mood. This book was beyond great. After reading it I felt quite down for a couple of days. Then I started to tell friends about it, and if I talked or thought about it too much, I again felt down. Finally, after a few months the book no longer impacts my emotions, but I do find that I think about it every now and again, and the book will just pop into my thoughts.

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  5. I have conflicted feelings about this book. I liked much of it but think the ending could have been clearer. It seems Claude did plan Gar’s death so many years ahead. It takes a powerful amount of hate to carry out such a plan so many years later with only a passing reference to a disagreement Claude and Gar had over a younger Forte. Did young Gar kill Forte and why was it necessary? Why did Trudy become catatonic instead of trying to save her son? She seemed like a strong person most of the time except for moments of depression which was understandable.

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  6. In reply to Marg’s question to the author about whether or not he intentionally based the book on Hamlet: while not the author, I think there is no doubt that he did base the book on Hamlet, just from the facts that Prince Hamlet’s mother was named Gertrude (Trudy), and Kind Hamlet’s brother (who killed him) was named Claudius (Claude) who married Gertrude after his brother’s death.

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  7. Like most of you, I was utterly shocked by the ending. I had been listening to the book on CD as I travelled to and from work for about 2 weeks. I knew the end was approching as I was on the last CD, but if the narator of the book had not actually said, “The End”, I think I would have assumed the last CD was defective or missing.

    I am grateful for this blog and discussion becuse I needed to discuss it NOW! I’ve read so many comments that touched on things I questioned, and some I even missed.

    I agree that this book is not for the person who wants light entertainment. There are plenty of books for that. This book is for those who want to think, question, and evaluate, not only this title, but their own thoughts and convictions. I also is for those who appreciate good writing and characterization. Slightly disturbing, but very worthwhile, in my opinion.

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  8. Bought this book in an airport two days ago. Found it difficult to put down. I’ve scanned the comments here and they amazed me.

    Okay, does anyone ever read a prologue? There’s an asian herbalist (with knowledge of an art that spans about a couple thousand years or more). Anyway, you would think that such a person might concoct an antidote to just about anything. Obviously, he can’t; and in desperation trades a horrible poison for western medicine (penecillin). Not going to be a happy book.

    One can be oblivious to Hamlet (it’s so much more than Hamlet), or hate the ending of this book — but please allow yourself to think and wonder.

    Not everything worthwhile is spelled out gratuitously. The book was written to affect you. Be glad if it did.

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  9. Did anyone think of the story of Mowgli? Other than the tragic ending there was a lot of similarities to the learned way of communication between the wolves who raised Mowgli and Edgar. It was also referred to many times in the book. I looked for these comparisons and likened the characters to those in Mowgli over Hamlet.

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  10. I agree, Will. I cannot believe all these people who are shocked at the book’s ‘depressing’ ending.
    The book is largely based off of Hamlet- the biggest bloodbath in literary history! Of COURSE it’s not going to end happily.
    I also don’t understand why some people are offended when books don’t conclude with a happy ending. To me, that would have been the biggest betrayal that the author could have made.

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  11. I have just finished reading this book; I am glad to see I am not alone with the questions and feeling unsettled and unresolved about the plot.

    1–What was the business with the dogs and the syringes?
    2–Did Edgar kll Dr. Papineau and mean to?
    3–Why was Claude so careful drawing up the “poison” (and what was the poison?) in the syringe—why did it matter if he had too much

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  12. judy i’m with you.I don’t understand the significance of the poison. I don’t get why they dogs had syringes in their mouths…..help please.

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  13. I appreciated the prose of the entire book,

    I think the ending is misunderstood. It is beautiful, tragic, mature, unfair but not completely conclusive.

    Essay’s freedom really made the ending work for me at first, but I found that with a little analysing the ending clicked. The parallel from Hamlet helps me understand the ending because of the thought I’d already put into that story, and recommend at least Sparknotes to those disappointed and unfulfilled by Edgar’s story.

    Like Essay, at the end of the story we are given choices to decide in the book and at the end. I am not surprised by all the disappointment because this is the misconception human nature given many people when a decision is theirs to make.

    Wroblewski wrote an excellent classic I own for my personal library.

    (and a trilogy plan would ruin it for me, but is interesting to look forward to when I am…. 80!)

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  14. Hamlet meets Cain and Abel in Wisconsin. Definitely not for those who prefer a pat dog and boy story nor for those who don’t appreciate symbolism, allegory, metaphor, allusions to other works of literature and the rest. A head scratcher, a heart troubler and a page turner all rolled into one. I found it both fascinating and frustrating. Isn’t Edgar like a Sawtelle dog? Almost an aspect of Almondine? He has no voice and although young appears fully grown up. He is much more mature than everyone else. The next dog? The next human? What is the poison? Doubt? Damn you Wroblewski!

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  15. I just finished this book and came looking for people who are discussing this book and I am totally puzzled to the reaction to the ending of the book.

    How could it end happily? Life is not Disneyland where everything ends with a happy ending.

    If you read for entertainment purposes, this book is not for you. If you read to experience something different, thought provoking, stunning in its depth, you will enjoy the book over and over.

    The author leaves us with a glimmer of hope that Essay chooses well – the “new” dog is a thinking dog, who will survive. Will we?

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  16. I am speechless…just finished the books and characters I have grown to love. I am a 37 year old, 250lb man and as I write I have tears in my eyes. This is an incredible book..look at the emotions this novel has created on this blog alone. We were all moved…I just feel numb. This work moved me…I have never wanted to discuss a book before in my life, and here I am looking and hoping. In my ending the dogs have learned to choose..and its ok.

    Thank You David Wroblewski for sharing this novel..I was born and raised in Wisconsin and now live in Florida but have longed to move home since the first 50 pages.

    I think this is a book I will remember-a lifetime book.

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  17. well, that was 3 days wasted, 562 pages wasted, the writing was so confusing i had to reread several chapters and was still confused…some of the chapters seemed to have nothing to do with anything and they never tied into the story later… what a waste i wish i could kick wrobleski in the crotch…oh yea and a waste of 16.99

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  18. Yes, I think Essay (means to try) and Forte planned to live in the forest, realistic or not. I can’t see how Edgar could survive, remember, he’d been poisoned. The scenes with his Father and Almondine told me that he was dying and reuniting with those he loved the most. I kept hoping Claude would stick himself with the syringe. He deserved it.

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  19. Claude killed Gar by injecting him with the poison. remember when Edgar finds the used syringe during the scene where his father comes to him in the rainstorm. The bottle was bought in Japan by Claude. (maybe he was in the service?) Edgar trained the dogs to tag each other and then finally Claude, hoping that someone would realize he was the killer. Guess that’s an example of his difficulty with what he SEES and how difficult it is communicate that to others. Yes, ALL of us.

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  20. I was seduced by the beautiful prose into thinking this was a beautiful book. But I was betrayed by the ending. I agree with DMS (2/18/09): What purpose is served by Edgar’s death in the end? Is it only to follow the Hamlet story line? I agree with I.P. Finley’s comment(1/17/09) that “slavish adhearance” to the Hamlet plot line prevented the author from “freeing his characters to find their own destinies.”
    I am happy to have found this blog and thank Sandy (2/4/09) for elucidating some of the themes and Pervin Oz (2/9/09) for explaining the Hamlet connection. (I never took a lit class and never read Hamlet). I think Peter (3/26/09) states best why the ending of this book is such a disappointment: there is no redemption. Leaving the Hamlet analogy aside, it is as if the ending were written with the idea to sell this book to a movie studio and the author had to figure out what would be the most dramatic and shocking ending.(Like Jodi Piccoult did with her main character in My Sister’s Keeper Great, although Wroblewski is a much better writter than Piccoult.) Good literature can be sad, but at the same time it should be not just thought provoking but uplifting in some way. Killing off Edgar accomplishes nothing but leaves the readers feeling empty. I would not recommend this book to a friend, unless he/she wanted to read an example of brilliant writing gone to waste.

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  21. I recently finished the book, read too fast and will read again. My book group is this Wed., can’t wait to hear what they have to say. I really agree with Susan (May 21st) and appreciated Chris’s (Aug 18th ) comments, as well as those from all others who provided helpful insights. What a great blog! What a beautiful book!

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  22. I am very frustrated with some of the comments about the novel. Not all stories end with nice happy endings! If that is what you are looking for, stick to Disney movies. Some people obviously have no sense of the word “tragedy” and how it pertains to literature. Yes, I was very sad at the ending of the story – but that doesn’t mean I didn’t love every minute of the story. A sad ending does not equate a bad ending. Some of the people on this board simply need to grow up and read with an adult’s eyes, not a child’s eyes.

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  23. I enjoyed reading the book up until the last 100 pages or so. Along the way, I developed a fondness for Edgar, Almondine,
    Henry and the other three dogs. I was rooting for Edgar to come home and courageously confront and expose his uncle and unravel some grand mystery or discovery about the uniqueness of the Sawtelle dogs.

    The ending was quite disappointing. Not necessarily that it had a tragic ending and everyone died, but rather that the story seemed unfinished. Why . . . ?

    1. Why the significance of Schultz in the beginning of the book? Initial part of the book referenced him a lot and I expected some tie in or revelation to be made later in the book, but there was nothing.

    2. Why the significance of Edgar’s grandfather friendship and correspondence with Bloom. Good deal of time focused on breeding and pesonality/character of the dogs, but it didn’t seem like some great discovery or uniqueness was made about these dogs at the end. Was it simply that they had the ability to make choose?

    3. Why did Claude kill Gar? Socialpath, to regain the farm/kennel business, childhood resentment, what? Author didn’t do justice in conveying why Claude wanted his brother dead…didn’t seem like he gained much by killing his brother. At least with Hamlet, his uncle wanted the throne.

    4. The significance of Forte?

    5. Glen’s scheme to kidnap Edgar in order to question him. He’s a police officer. There wasn’t a better or more interesting method?

    I didn’t think the author explained and wrapped up the story too well. A part of me feels like I invested hours in this book, only to be “cheated” by the ending.

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  24. The complaints tell me much more about the reader(s) than the book. It appears that some people really should stick to Harry Potter and leave these kinds of books to adults. As for me, I’ll read it again and continue to recommend it to those who like something with a little more challenge.

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  25. NOTE: I have never before been so inspired as to write a review for a book I’ve read, good or bad. But in this case I believe people should be warned before spending the money or the time or both. In my opinion this is one of those books that may simply be intended to elevate itself through controversy rather than quality of story. While Wroblewski clearly has a magical way with words, I question his ability to write a story, unless as I speculated, it was done as such for commercial reasons. This book will likely appeal to those individuals (Oprah?) who consider themselves to be of some intellectual and/or artistic level of consciousness as to grasp the underlying meaning of things not as easily recognized by the mere mortal masses like myself. And while I could probably struggle to find such a meaning as well, I’m sure it would never be as satisfying as to have had the story resolve itself appropriately on its own, and I already paid Wroblewski to do that for my enjoyment. I read another review that reminded me of my feelings as I progressed through the book, which were that while I disliked the very beginning, I overlooked it suspecting of course that there was a good reason for it which would present itself as the story unfolded. Then I found myself drawn into what appeared to be developing into such an enjoyable journey that I recommended it to several people and even more yet again perhaps a third of the way through. However somewhere near the middle I realized that I had become reticent to recommend it until I found out first for myself where it was going, and then ultimately, after the continually depressing downward spiral, I found I could not recommend it to anyone, and in fact considered pitching it into the fireplace so that it could not infect anyone else. The only thing even somewhat redeeming about the ending was the partial resolution of the relationship between the boy and his dog. Had it not been for that, I may have felt justified in pursuing legal action against the author for some compensation of my valuable personal time, etc. lost. For me it was as though he knowingly injected just enough positive elements to make me feel he knew right from wrong and would finally bring me to a happy place. What a shame that so much potential had to be lost on either commercialism or sensationalism or both. I should have known better than to give much credit to the jacket review of someone with the precarious sanity of Stephen King. My mistake. Bottom line: Very misleading. Essentially a horror story in the end, and I find it a disappointing statement that many claim to have enjoyed it. All but two of the good guys either die or worse, and the bad one lives, presumably to further torment the only surviving good guys. By the way, don’t assume that because I didn’t like this ending I must be naïve or unworldly, etc., because I assure you that I have been around much more than most, and although I’ve become a successful, well adjusted middle aged man, the road to here exposed me to the dark side of life in many various ways, and I want my reading to transport me further away from those places rather than back into them. At least to some degree. Believe me, I get the whole concept of reality, I know true life’s not “Disneyland”, but this book destroyed nearly everything good. The good husband & father, the good wife & mother, the good son, the great dog, the good friend?, and the good cop. Then spares only the sick, disgusting, manipulative snake of a human, Edgar’s uncle. The shear scope of the negativity makes me wonder about Wroblewski personally. What sort of place does that come from? As I write this I realize that I just don’t understand choosing to become engaged in terrible tragedy. I suppose though if being left feeling empty and disturbed somehow makes you feel better or something, this one’s for you!

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  26. Robert – While I agree with a lot of your preamble, I don’t share the feeling of “negativity” and unlike you was left full and disturbed. You’ll have to explain how this book “spares” Claude. Do you think he survives the fire? The book this most reminded of, on the account of its apparent ambivalence, is Deliverance. It’s the nature of a book that uses biblical, Shakespearian or Freudian arhcetypes to tell a deeper tale than the one presented at face value to leave readers confused about the surface story. Yes, this book may well have been over written in too many workshops but it’s fascinating nonetheless. I may re-read this and come to a similar conclusion but I will re-read it. That’s a pretty successful story, in my way of thinking.

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  27. Thomas-I suppose I’ll have to re-read the ending and get back to you. Something left me with the impression that Claude survived, but I can’t recall the specific circumstances. Perhaps I am wrong about it.

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  28. I loved the book, I think as Thomas and many others have said, it was dark, yet almost whimsical in places, it made me think and smile and cry, I was riveted to the very last…thats what reading is all about surely? Stretching our imaginations to the very limit!

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  29. All this complaining about the ending…Of course there was redemption, Edgar’s Grandfather’s theories were redeemed for one when Essay turned out to be the “evolved” dog that he argued for in all those letters to Brooks. How? In the last paragraph notice Essay raising his paw – he was issuing a stay command to his pack.
    Also, Edgar redeemed himself for the accidental death of Papineau by rescuing the dogs and exposing Claude. When Trudy called Claude a liar I gave a fist pump and shouted “Yeah!” in a crowded resaurant. And how were Edgar’s first and final words, “I love you” anything but great??? Outstanding work!

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  30. What a useless and horrible novel. David Wroblewsk should go back to school and make this his last novel. What a waste of time. If you get off on this type of story telling and publicity, then your a sick man. This book is now ashes! And I’m out $17.
    Never to buy another book written by this author.

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  31. I, too, was deeply saddened by Edgar’s death. But I believe the author wanted to become clear in his ultimate aim of the story – that humans and animals are all equal in their spiritual being (Almondeen had the ability to speak in her spiritual form – so did Edgar), and mere bound on earth by our physical bodies. Edgar understood this as a human because of his disability: he also struggled to communicate with the rest of the world, just as dogs do. The fact that the dogs could understand his sign (and often complex sentences in which he communicated with them as opposed to a mere “sit” or “roll-over”) emphasizes animal intelligence and posession of a soul.
    The author also suggests strongly that animals, in their physical figure, are much more advanced than humans, because they have the ability to see spiritual presences. Edgar shares this ability, perhaps because of is DISablilty and hence closer companionship with the animals. Perhaps Edgar’s spirit, because it is eventually set free with his death, will remain with the freed animals, and guide them on their journey towards their supposed destiny – whatever that might be.

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  32. I, too, listened to the audio version of this book. I’ve read all the above posts and no one mentioned one other thing from the final tragic scene. In the fire, before he dies, Edgar SAYS (not signs) “I love you”. I understood this to mean that Edgar finally got his voice, just before dying. I can’t recall whether he said it to his father’s ghost or to Almondine. Did anyone else catch that?

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  33. Wow. I just finished the book this morning. A little background: I wandered into a library book sale and there were several “withdrawn” copies of this book for sale ($1, perfect condition). I had seen Wrobkewski read from it at the Wisconsin Book Festival, so I thought, what the heck.

    I guess I’m still “processing.” But it is almost overwhelming to read the reactions above.

    To Karen in Virginia–yeah, there are quotes around the “I love you.” I thought I got that, but didn’t really get it until you pointed that out. Shame on me for not being a close reader–but, hey, more than 500 pages in after two weeks (I am not a fast reader), and I have to admit I was a little fatigued.

    If anyone wants to discuss further, I’d be up for it.

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  34. This is an amazing book and I was completely surprised by the end. Yes, it was terribly sad, but it was also so satisfying to me that Almondine and Edgar were together with Gar… and that Edgar could SAY to his father, “I love you”. And Trudy, not knowing that she was “unbound” from the black vine… but “not there”. Her death or suspended state is tragic too… I cried at the end… through all the deaths and the pain and the horror and the betrayal.
    The beautiful words, the world they evoke… a superb read.
    I love all the comments, because everyone’s feelings about this book are so strong. And, everyone’s opinions made me think and look at the story differently.

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  35. I just finished this book yesterday. I had so many unanswered questions, and am so glad I found this blog. I loved this book, but the ending was so terribly tragic. I rather expected Edgar to die, but I am left very confused about what happened to Glen and Trudy. And the chapter that most broke my heart was when Edgar shunned Almondine and then left and she waited and looked for him. I thought she was killed by the car”the traveler”, but wasn’t sure. What I cannot understand about Almondine is that for all of her ability to read people, she did not seem to see the evil in Claude. This I will never understand, because dogs have a keen insight into people’s souls and usually know when they are evil. I can’t believe that she didn’t know that he killed Gar. I am glad all of you are as confused as I am. This book will haunt me for a long time, and it makes me love my two dogs even more (and I don’t know how that is possible) My dogs are also spoiled and untrained – I always thought it was cruel, but I understand now that they want to communicate with their people and to please us.

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  36. I just finished reading this book a few minutes ago and I have mixed emotions. The relationship between Edgar and Almondine had me in tears, the book is engaging, but I’m deeply disappointed in the ending.

    Why does Edgar have to die? The kid suffers through out most the book then dies in the only place that ever gave him happiness — the barn. HORRIBLE ending. I also think that the book takes too long to get started. The author is talented, but is very wordy.

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  37. I have been thinking more about the book. I believe that Essay will lead the dogs to Henry. (And I like the idea of him hearing about the tragedy at the Sawtelles and realizing who Edgar was) Perhaps Essay and Forte will let the dogs choose whether they want to remain in the wild, or go to Henry. I wasn’t too sad when Edgar sent Tinder and Baboo to Henry, because he realized how deep Henry’s lonliness was and how much Henry needed the dogs for love and companionship. Also, it was his way of repaying Henry for his helping him and the dogs. I believe that Henry had seen the old man in the shed before and that is why he had Edgar put so much of the stuff back afer they got the car in. I think he realized how much those things meant to him (the old man) because they belonged to his wife.

    I am quite sure Edgar died at the end of the book because the poison was not survivable. As he is dying, he crosses into the light with Almondine and meets his father, and as he is finally freed from his earthly body, he is able to utter the words, “I love You” for the first time. I am also sure that Claude dies in the fire – he keeps turning around just when he about to reach the door. I think the poison illustrates that sometimes a power is so dangerous, that you can neither keep it or dispose of it. Either way, it will get you in the end. I also think Trudy knew about Claude’s crimes in the end. She realized that Edgar had left a note for her and that Claude had kept it from her.

    I think that the picture of Claude and Forte told Edgar that Forte was Claude’s dog, not his father’s, and When Claude saw that Edgar had it (the picture), he knew that he knew. Claude killed Forte, not Gar. The stray Forte might have Claude feeling that he was the ghost of Forte, and maybe he was – that was probably why he wanted to kill it again.

    I actually thought Trudy died in the end. Fire was melting things all around – the truck, turning the grass brown and yet she doesn’t move. I thought maybe she was just emotionally paralyzed and stayed there and awaited her fate. I still can’t figure out about Glen, and I agree that was wierd about him keeping Trudy in a scissor hold!

    Need to work on your denouemant. Mr. Wrobeleski!

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  38. This was a beautiful book. I read it on vacation and had time to really sink into it. I escaped. For that, I enjoyed the book, descriptive…not vulgar….but the ending was so strange that now I feel haunted. Why the poison? Why would Glen smother Edgar? Why do we not know what happened with Trudy?
    I miss Edgar and Almondine, I am truly sad about it all.
    I suppose the fact that I am so upset, makes this a good book. I can not claim to critique a book properly, but the same perplexing questions are coming through from all the blogs, perhaps our author with all of his skills could grasp slightly a few of our nightmares and try another book with a more complete ending. I will be waiting!!!
    Thank you for the incredible escape though….would buy another book from you!

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  39. I also am not sure about what is the Sawtelle dog secret? I hope someone can tell me this? Their insight? Mixing with wild dogs?
    will appreciate any suggestions from all of you wonderful, haunted people like me!!!

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  40. This book had a serious issue with consistency and lacked a clear point. I agree that the characters were static, not overly relatable to and I had absolutely no apathy toward any of them. There were so many insignificant tangent story lines that made no sense and I actually forgot about most of them until reading most of these reviews due to their pointlessness. No satisfaction at the end and just plain ridiculous. What was the point of edgar’s journey? Did Trudy die as well? And why on earth would it end with Essay taking a troop of dogs into the wild? Completely preposterous and the only parts I enjoyed were pre Gar’s death and Almondine’s perspective. Killing off the only emotionally relatable characters was a bad move because they weren’t supplemented by any other strong ones. Very disappointing and confusing.

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  41. This book made me think. I was constantly re-reading passages in order to understand the author’s imagery [not that I minded, as I enjoyed reading it] Although the ending left me sad, I have to remember that not everything can be a fairytale ending. Death is a part of life. Some of the things that left me confused however, where mainly…who was the ghost that Edgar was speaking with while cleaning out Henry’s barn? What purpose did that ghost serve? The only thing that I wish would have been different in this book is that I would have loved a chance to connect with the characters more. Being able to have parts of the stories told from the dog’s point of view was great. However, I would have liked more from Claude or Gar or even Trudy. Where’s the background on Henry? He was important. What was the huge conflict that Claude had with Gar? I WANT MORE! Loved this story and I was so sad when it ended.

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  42. This is the worst bunch of gripes i’ve ever encountered… I’ve been reading this book for six months now.. I read every page three times before moving to the next. Edgar does grow as a charactor…Trudy’s charactor makes perfect sense. Claude and Gar are archetypal symbols… I’m a english major.. and i’ve now spent two hours reading every post! And so many people dislike the book based on their lack of understanding. It’s a tragedy!! I believe the last quarter of the book to have been the most powerful, the beginning was beautfiul in how slow it came… which as noted in the story.. “You can have anything you want in life if youre willing to go slow enough.” So many people criticize the author!! what’s that about? Way to support him. He’s taken more risk writing this book than 99% of us have in our lives… I can only submit to praying that none of you recieve the same support many have showed David Wroblewski when you ever write something worthy of being read.

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  43. I guess all of you “angry” about the ending of this book have never read Victor Hugo.
    It’s one thing to wish the book ended differently (how many things in life do we wish ended differently?), but to be angry? to hate this book because you didn’t get the ending you wished for seems very typical of our spoiled, want-it-now, want-it-my-way society.
    At first I was so sad Almondine died just before reuniting with Edgar. I understood Edgar’s anger and frustration with her – in his mind – remember, he’s still a child – she betrayed him. When he’d finally forgiven her, I was so relieved. When I realized he would never be able to say he’s sorry and experience the unconditional love and forgiveness of a dog, I was devastated. I could not understand how an author could do that to me. Then I realized it was just a story, these people and animals were just fiction and I had been given a gift of feeling without consequence. I experienced and dealt with the pain of loss and grief without actually loosing anybody.

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  44. It took me almost a year to read this book. Finally started skimming and the last 100 pages were exciting. Felt very let down at end and there were too many unanswered questions. One thing I have not seen any one question is the way Almondine took to Claude. That was unbelievable to me. Almondine, and dogs in general, are too sensitive to be hoodwinked. Almondine, especially, who was so psychologically in tune with Edgar. This aspect really bothered me. Almondine should have been the one to go with Edgar on his journey.

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  45. I don’t think any novel needs a happy ending, but a supremely weird ending is most irritating. This book had just too many inconsistencies; how could a mute boy really train dogs that will almost uniformly be owned by speaking persons? What about HAA? How could his mother end up being so stupid? Wroblewski ran out of ideas for an ending and settled for a joke.

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  46. I enjoyed reading this book, thought the author was very gifted in painting a mental picture of the people and places the story took me, but was so disappointed in the ending. I don’t need a “happy ending,” but would have appreciated it not ending so abruptly, with so many questions unanswered. Why take us through that journey, watching Edgar learn all those lessens, to see him finally come to terms with everything his family and the kennel had been about, to just come back and die in the fire. And I agree, the scissor-hold Glenn had on Trudy was simply weird. I won’t trust this author in the future to finish the story and will probably not read another of his books.

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  47. I just finished the book, and since it is late and there’s no one to talk to, I came searching for others who might have reacted to the ending like I did.

    I don’t need a happy ending. I need resolution. This book is not resolved; it just ended.

    Trudy was dragged off by Glen in the end, so no rescue for Edgar slumped in the barn, although I liked the idea put forth by one commenter on this site.

    I’m glad this site is here so now I can go to bed. I read the author comments at the end (a bit TMI) and when I realized that he wanted to get his MFA so he could write a book–and that THIS was his first book done in workshop–that explained a lot. I think he’s very facile with his language and description, the book mostly seamless in its execution and the dogs become their own force in the book, along with the humans. Yet. . .

    I think only the most skilled writers can pen a book’s resolution that shows characters learning from their mistakes, that open up the promise of their continued journey. There is no continued journey here. Only an ending.

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  48. Edgar did want to hurt Page. Right before he was pushed down the steps, Edgar said to him “did you help him?”, referring to Claude. Page taught Claude everything he knew about veterinary medicine.

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