Saturday, January 4, 2014

Book Review: "Dear Mr. Knightley"

When I start reading a good book, it seems I lack all self-control to stop reading until it’s finished. I finished Dear Mr. Knightley, by Katherine Reay, over just a couple days, including one evening that I actually fell asleep against a page. In other words, I really enjoyed it.

The novel is written in letter form, from Samantha Moore, a 23-year old former foster child who has lost her self-confidence from being tossed through the foster system, to Mr. George Knightley, a mysterious benefactor who awards Sam a grant to a prestigious journalism school, with the one stipulation that she must write him letters detailing him on the progress of her schoolwork.

The letters quickly become Samantha’s personal journal, delving into her history, her friends and boyfriend, and her goals and dreams. She details conversations she’s had over the course of the day, and much of the beginning of the book is focused around her friends and caregivers at Grace House, a home for foster and neglected youth. Sam has little to no personal skills, so she hides behind the classic works of Austen, Dumas, and others, and frequently quotes her favorite characters instead of having to be part of a real conversation.

After Sam meets one of her literary icons, Alex Powell, a young novelist, her letters shift to encompass more of their budding relationship. Kyle, a young, troubled teenager at Grace House, becomes one of Sam’s best friends, and many letters include the personal growth of Samantha and Kyle, as they move to gain confidence and regain trust after their difficult childhoods.

My only gripe with this novel was that at a few points I looked up and thought: How did she get from here to here? It seemed like Ms. Reay had a goal for the ending of the book, and at a couple plot lines forcibly shifted things without much explanation. The ending tied up some loose ends, but added a few more questions, so I hope that means there will be a sequel for this enjoyable book!

*Thank you to the publisher and BookSneeze for providing me a complimentary copy of this book to review. All opinions are my own, and have no been swayed in any way.

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