Sunday, November 3, 2013

Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay

From the publisher: Samantha Moore has always hidden behind the words of others—namely, her favorite characters in literature. Now, she will learn to write her own story—by giving that story to a complete stranger.
Sam is, to say the least, bookish. An English major of the highest order, her diet has always been Austen, Dickens, and Shakespeare. The problem is, both her prose and conversation tend to be more Elizabeth Bennet than Samantha Moore.
But life for the twenty-three-year-old orphan is about to get stranger than fiction. An anonymous, Dickensian benefactor (calling himself Mr. Knightley) offers to put Sam through Northwestern University’s prestigious Medill School of Journalism. There is only one catch: Sam must write frequent letters to the mysterious donor, detailing her progress.
As Sam’s dark memory mingles with that of eligible novelist Alex Powell, her letters to Mr. Knightley become increasingly confessional. While Alex draws Sam into a world of warmth and literature that feels like it’s straight out of a book, old secrets are drawn to light. And as Sam learns to love and trust Alex and herself, she learns once again how quickly trust can be broken.
Reminding us all that our own true character is not meant to be hidden, Reay’s debut novel follows one young woman’s journey as she sheds her protective persona and embraces the person she was meant to become.
I was somewhat skeptical when I chose this book to review, and when I got the book and realized it was written in letters, my skepticism increased.  Some books written, completely in letter form can be tedious to read.  This was not the case at all with this book.  I quickly read through each letter and found myself completely engaged in the story.
Katherine Reay's first book was a pleasure to read.  As Sam quotes other literature throughout the book, and book lover will enjoy seeing their favorite quotes and character's through Sam's eyes and voice.  
While parts of the story are light and entertaining there is a real voice that champions for the children who are placed in the foster care system and their need for love and families.  Reay's book will cause readers to think deeply on how actions affect others for life.
The spiritual aspect of this book is light but true to life.  Sam doesn't have a shocking spiritual conversion experience, nor are any of her problems dealt with a flippant manner.  Reay has Sam work through all her issues in a realistic way.  
In the letters Sam introduces other people in her life, and these secondary characters are just as intriguing.  I was attached to Alex, the Muirs, Father John, and other characters in Sam's life, and I know other readers will feel the same.
I only wish that the ending of this book was longer or there was an epilogue to tell more at the end of the story.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book and will look for other book written by Katherine Reay.
I received this book free from Booksneeze in exchange for my honest review.

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