Gripping reads: 3 novels that you won't be able to put down

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Has lockdown been dragging on too long? Escape between the pages of one of these books.

Dear Edward

By Anne Napolitano

Viking

This heartbreaking novel is a tale of before and after. Twelve-year-old Edward Adler is the sole survivor of a plane crash. He and his family had been headed for a new life in Los Angeles when the plane crashes killing 191 people on board. Edward gets taken in by his well-meaning aunt and uncle but the only person he can relate to in any meaningful way is his neighbour, Shay, a headstrong girl, who becomes his sanctuary from a world morbidly fascinated by his survival.The story is told in a dual narrative: the first recounting Edward’s physical and mental recovery from his trauma, the second a forensic account of the final hours on board the plane, featuring a colourful array of characters. When Edward discovers a sack of letters addressed to him by family members of the dead he’s set on a path of redemption. Can he finally find meaning in the terrible event? The book feels a lot like a YA novel at times but it’s gripping and as a reader you really care about Edward’s salvation. It’s also a meditation on the fleeting nature of life, with the airplane scenes almost unbearable in their poignancy. Life is short, is the message. Short but beautiful. – SANDY COOK

Into the Fire

By Gregg Hurwitz

Minotaur

At the age of 12 Evan Smoak was taken from an orphanage and trained to become ultimate government assassin Orphan X. But after numerous successful missions for the Orphan Program, Evan escaped. He now lives in ­isolation in his secret ultra high-tech penthouse in Los Angeles as the Nowhere Man. His only mission: to aid those who need help.When he gets a call from the down-and-out Max Merriweather, Evan springs into action. Max has been given an envelope by his cousin, Grant, with ­specific instructions about what to do in case something happens to him. Then Grant is murdered . . . This, the fifth in the Orphan X series, is a rip-roaring, breathtaking thriller with the action ramping up continuously, building to a sensational finale. To really enjoy it, readers must suspend their sense of disbelief, just as you would when watching Tom Cruise in any Mission: Impossible movie. I fervently hope it’s not the last Orphan X novel. – ANDRÉ J BRINK

Wild

By Kristen Hannah

Pan Macmillan

Julia Cates is a child psychiatrist, whose career is ruined because of a scandal. In a bid to escape the fallout, she returns to her American home town, Rain Valley next to the Olympic National Forest where her sister, Ellie, is the police chief.Ellie needs her help with a six-year-old girl, who appeared out of the forest. The child is terrified and cannot speak so her identity is a mystery.Julia has to use everything she knows, plus all her strength and faith, to help this bewildered child to learn to speak and overcome her shocking past. She applies for temporary foster care, so that Alice as she calls her cannot be removed by various scientific people who want to study her and put her in an institution.Slowly the story of Alice’s past comes out and gets more shocking as it progresses. This extraordinary tale of human endurance and hope from the bestselling author of The Great Alone is disturbing but well worth reading. I couldn’t put it down. – GERRY WALDEN

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