Saturday, November 30, 2013

Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay (Blog Tour)

TitleDear Mr. Knightley
Author: Katherine Reay (website)(Twitter)
Pages: 325
Publication Date: November 5, 2013
PublisherThomas Nelson Publishers
Source: Litfuse Publicity Group for blog tour in exchange for an honest review 
Rating: 3 out of 5

Summary from 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.

Growing up orphaned and alone, Sam found her best friends in the works of Austen, Dickens, and the Brontë sisters. The problem is that she now relates to others more comfortably as Elizabeth Bennet and Jane Eyre than as herself.

Sometimes we lose ourselves in the things we care about most.

But life for this twenty-three-year-old is about to get stranger than fiction, when an anonymous benefactor (calling himself “Mr. Knightley”) offers to put Sam through the 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 program and peers force her to confront her past, she finds safety in her increasingly personal letters to Mr. Knightley. And when Sam meets eligible, best-selling novelist Alex Powell, those letters unfold a story of love and literature that feels as if it’s pulled from her favorite books. But when secrets come to light, Sam is – once again – made painfully aware of how easily trust can be broken.

I have to be honest and say that I didn't read much from the summary. I read that a girl loves literature and saw the cover and just wanted it.  It reads much like Daddy Long Legs, a childhood favorite, but was confusing because it was modern. It read like it was from long ago but wasn't. It cracks me up that it mentions it has a "delightful dash" of Jane Austen. She or her contemporaries are on almost every page it seemed to me.

Samantha was a frustrating character for most of the book. I didn't really like her in the least until the last 25 or so pages. She had been through so much in her life but she seemed way younger than her 24 years and her quoting of classic literature got old fast. I think I know what the author was trying to do with her and I could appreciate it but she was so frustrating.

On the other hand I loved the character of Alex until the last 25 pages of the book. It's pretty obvious what is going to happen but the story in between is compelling enough that it held my attention. He was parts swoon and parts flawed and that made for a completely adorable man. He's a best selling novelist and I couldn't help but picture... 

And I wanted to read about the delightful sounding Cole he writes about. I like my men funny and he lacked that but otherwise...swoon.

The best part of the book for me personally was her growing relationship with 14 year old foster child Kyle. His character was so engaging and sad. The foster system in our country is so flawed and the people that are a part of it are so flawed. The stories that you can read are beyond heartbreaking. I enjoyed Kyle's story arc immensely. It gave me hope.

I mentioned before that it read like Daddy Long Legs. I have mixed feelings about books written with letters but I really enjoyed the letters she wrote to Mr. Knightley. They truly show her growth throughout the book.

Although this is marketed as a Christian fiction, the presence of God is limited. He contributes nothing to their lives except in passing. There is a Father that is throughout and he prays and a couple of others pray but it's limited. For those who want God out of their stories, this one is slight. To those of us don't mind Him, it might be a bit too little.

Overall it's a sweet story that lovers of literature will more than likely enjoy immensely. A wide cast of characters keeps the pace moving. Real life - the good, the bad, the ugly - plays out over the pages and pulls a heartstring or two.

3 (or I liked it) out of 5 stars.

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