Dear Edward: 7 Differences Between The AppleTV+ Show And Book

Colin O'Brien in Dear Edward
(Image credit: Apple TV+)

Before Dear Edward premiered on Apple TV+ as part of the February, 2023 TV schedule, it was one of the most anticipated upcoming book-to-screen adaptations. I, and many others, wanted to see how the book would be adapted for the TV series format. Well, the show and the book have some of the same DNA, but are essentially different entities. If you came into the series expecting a faithful adaptation, then you’re bound to be disappointed, as the series is more like a reinterpretation of certain elements from the book. It has some of the core parts, but overall has its own identity.

The main uniting factor of the Dear Edward TV show and the book is that they revolve around Edward and his family. The novel and series have many differences, but it’s a few of the important ones that give each version its character. Let’s explore some of the important differences between the TV series and the book.

Warning: Dear Edward book and show spoilers are ahead.  

Connie Britton in Dear Edward

(Image credit: Apple TV+)

The Book Follows The Flight Passengers 

Most of the Dear Edward book follows Edward over the course of several years. The majority of the story takes place in the present, while other half of the novel takes place in the past and follows several characters on the flight before it crashes. You get to know these people right before their deaths. The TV show takes a completely different approach by following some of the loved ones of those who died in the crash.

In the novel, we do meet a few of those left behind, but only briefly or through letters. The book very much takes an even sadder approach to its characters by allowing us to get to know these people who are fated to die in a few hours.  It makes sense that the show would follow the families of those who died to keep the show grounded in the present and explore what happens next, the characters’ grief, and allow us to get to know the deceased characters through their family members. Dear Edward isn’t one of the saddest things to watch but it definitely wants you to tap into emotions as you watch it. The focus on the grieving family members is definitely one way to achieve this outcome. 

Anna Uzele in Dear Edward

(Image credit: Apple TV+)

The Dear Edward TV Show Characters Are Different From The Book Ones 

This Apple TV+ series takes a bold approach to this adaptation by creating completely new characters. The majority of those on the show don’t make an appearance in the book; almost all of the family members of those who died are absent from that story. Additionally, most of their deceased loved ones also aren’t present in the novel.

Obviously, there are a lot of people who died in this plane crash and we only meet a handful of them in the book. Therefore, it’s clever of the Dear Edward producers to invent characters, because technically the book characters could still appear in potential future seasons. Also, some of the series' characters are clearly inspired by some of those in the novel. The ending of Season 1 seems to imply that the producers don’t want it to join the world of cancelled TV shows. This leaves the door open for additional previously established characters to make an appearance or at least get a mention. 

Amy Forsyth in Dear Edward

(Image credit: Apple TV+)

Linda Is On The Flight In The Book 

Linda is one of the few book characters that make it into the series. However, the show completely changes her fate. Linda is pregnant in the original story and on the plane, and her boyfriend Gary is actually the one who isn’t in the crash. He’s also one of the few family members of the victims who actually briefly interact with Edward in the present timeline.

I completely understand the choice to switch Linda and Gary’s fates in the Dear Edward TV show. It’s a lot sadder to know a pregnant woman died in a plane crash than it is to know that her boyfriend did. It could also be more emotional and profound to follow Linda as she grows, grieves, and learns how to be a good mother. It gives the series a bit more emotional weight.

Colin O'Brien in Dear Edward

(Image credit: Apple TV+)

Edward Finds The Letters At Home, In The Book 

In the book, Edward finds the letters in his garage at home. On the show, he finds them at John’s office/job. This may not seem like an important change, but the letters being in his garage play an important part in Shay and Edward’s story. He finds the letters after they have a bit of a falling out. Once they reunite and repair their friendship, it becomes something that bonds them even more.

It’s also done in secret in the book. It’s a few years after the crash when Edward discovers the letters and begins sneaking off with Shay to the garage late at night to read them and plan how to tackle some of the requests. The series seems to kind of get on the same page as the book by ending the season with Shay and Edward now reading them together. I think this is also an understandable change, because it sets the series up for a Season 2 storyline. It also opens the door to introducing more characters. Additionally, the uncle twist isn’t in the book, so doing the letters this early allows the show to have that twist and expand Edward’s family.

Dario Ladani Sanchez in Dear Edward

(Image credit: Apple TV+)

Ben Doesn’t Have A Sam In The Book

Ben, or Benjamin, is another book character who makes it into the show. However, his story is tweaked quite a bit, at least in terms of his love life. We read about Benjamin falling for a boy during his time in the military, but there isn’t much talk about his love life before then. Sam also seems to be acting as a surrogate for the Benjamin character. Benjamin knows he’s gay but he’s still wrestling with his sexuality, and Sam is experiencing the same turmoil in the show.

Colin O'Brien in Dear Edward

(Image credit: Apple TV+)

Shay's Dad Is Only Around In The Show 

Shay’s dad is mentioned briefly in the book but makes no significant appearance; he is not in her life in any capacity. Shay’s mother, Besa, has a bigger role in the books than in the show. Additionally, she is the one who starts to worry about Shay and Edward sleeping alone in a room together. The addition of Shay’s father is interesting because it takes Shay’s story down a different path, one that’s less confident.

Overall, novel Shay is very set in her identity and doesn’t compromise for anyone, so seeing her change to please her father is an unexpected choice. However, we’ll see how it develops if Dear Edward continues to be part of the exclusive content for those with an Apple TV+ subscription

Carter Hudson and Taylor Schilling in Dear Edward

(Image credit: Apple TV+)

Lacey And John Stay Together In The Dear Edward Book

In the novel, Lacey and John have problems. Their issues are so apparent that Edward begins to worry about whether they will make it, or if they will become another couple who ends in divorce, like so many characters in great breakup movies. Despite their issues, they never separate. Truthfully, the series seems to want to make John appear worse than he is in the book.

On screen, he seems a bit more unstable and self-involved, but in the book, he actually seems like a stable person, and would definitely not go on a rant about feeling the energy at the crash site to the grieving families. I completely understand why TV John would separate from TV Lacey. However, his speech at the end of Season 1 seems to open the door wide for reconciliation. 

The Dear Edward TV show isn’t one of the best Apple TV+ shows yet, but it starts with a lot of heart and great changes that give it room to grow. Overall, the differences turn it into something completely separate from the book, but it works, because the additional characters add richness to the show.

Stream Dear Edward on Apple TV+.

Jerrica Tisdale
Freelance Writer

Spent most of my life in various parts of Illinois, including attending college in Evanston. I have been a life long lover of pop culture, especially television, turned that passion into writing about all things entertainment related. When I'm not writing about pop culture, I can be found channeling Gordon Ramsay by kicking people out the kitchen.