The 10-episode series of Dear Edward, which dropped its first three episodes on February 3, is an adaptation of Ann Napolitano’s 2020 novel of the same name. Many people question if Dear Edward is rooted in reality or not. Or is the plane crash in the series modeled after a real-life plane crash? We’ve got the answers here.
#1. What is Dear Edward about?
The series follows a 12-year-old boy named Edward (Colin O’Brien), who became the sole survivor of a plane crash that killed nearly 200 people, including his parents and brother. As the series progresses, we watch a group of people who lost loved ones in the crash come together, form friendships, and help each other pick up the pieces.
Dear Edward tells a story that’s both deeply terrifying and eerily familiar. It emphasizes the power that tragedy and grief can hold over us, and reminds us how healing human connection can be. So was the Apple TV+ series or Napolitano’s book based on real events?
#2. Is Dear Edward based on a true story?
Source: Apple TV
Dear Edward is based on a real plane crash. Well, technically, the new series, which dropped Feb. 3, is based on Ann Napolitano’s 2020 novel of the same name. The book, in turn, pulled inspiration from Afriqiyah Airways Flight 771. In 2010, a 9-year-old Dutch boy and his family were traveling home from South Africa when their plane crashed in Libya. That child, Ruben van Assouw, was the only survivor on board. 103 others, including Ruben’s brother and his parents, died. His mom and dad were celebrating their 12-and-a-half-year wedding anniversary, a Dutch tradition.
Napolitano was the mom to 1- and 3-year-old sons at the time, she wrote, and found herself preoccupied with the tragedy. “This story just flayed me,” she told “I could not imagine how the boy would be OK — and I could feel from the stickiness of my obsession that I was going to have to write a book that created a set of circumstances to make him OK.”
Source: Apple TV
Creating those circumstances took some imagination, though. As Napolitano told BookTrib, she “learned very little about who Ruben was as a boy, or how he recovered.” She spoke to a retired pilot about plane crashes and read nonfiction books to inspire other passengers’ stories. Napolitano also used her own family dynamic to inform Dear Edward. “My boys have been devoted to each other since my youngest son was born, and their devotion found its way into the book,” she explained.
Dear Edward shouldn’t be treated, then, as a true-to-life recreation of the 2010 tragedy. But what happened to the real Ruben? After being discovered half a mile from the wreckage, per CBS, Ruben’s injuries were treated in a local hospital. He learned, there, that his family had been killed.
“The whole family is going to bear the responsibility for Ruben’s future,” the boy’s aunt and uncle said in a statement at the time, per NBC News. They also explained that they “have two kinds of sorrow to deal with, because Ruben is in a terrible situation, but [they] have also lost family members.”
Ruben’s family has seemingly raised him pretty privately — so little is known about where he is today. As of 2015, he was still living in the Netherlands with his aunt and uncle. And in 2013, the cause of the plane crash was revealed to be “human error and a lack of coordination between the pilot and co-pilot,”
Related: ‘Dear Edward’ Ending Explained: Is Charles Gay? What’s In The Letter To Edward?
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