Book Review: Edgar Allan by John Neufeld

Title: Edgar Allan

Author: John Neufeld

Genre: Classic YA Fiction

Number of Pages: 128

Rating: B

Recommended?: Yes


This book was better than I expected. I was mostly just looking for something short to read on Kindle. I read Lisa, Bright and Dark years ago and when I started reading this the name M-E rang a bell, I wasn’t surprised she was a character in both books. I can’t recall if she was as much of a bitch in Lisa, Bright and Dark as she is in this, though.

According to the afterward Edgar Allan is John Neufeld’s favorite thing he’s written, and I can see why. It’s simple but powerful. The narrator, Michael, is the son of a well-intentioned reverend and his wife who do a trial run before adopting a titular character, an African American baby. Michael’s older sister, M-E, immediately objects to it, fearing the criticism of her friends and the community.

Sure enough, there’s backlash from the church and members of the KKK burn a cross on the family’s lawn. The parents are finally intimidated into giving Edgar Allan up, which causes distrust and disillusionment from the biological children. Even though it seems like an act of cowardice (and lying to the kids by saying Edgar Allan was adopted by another family even more so) you can see why the dad did what he did.

You can also see why Michael feels a profound sense of disappointment in his father and I found their relationship to be the most powerful aspect of the book. Some modern readers might find this book to be an outdated look at transracial adoption or be frustrated that Edgar Allan (the only Black character in the story) isn’t given a voice or more agency of his own, even though it makes sense considering his age. I thought it was a nuanced and unique coming-of-age narrative about the choices we make and the ways they tend to linger over our relationships with our loved ones.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s