Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay Genre: Romance, Literature Publisher: Thomas Nelson Publication Date: November 5, 2013
Samantha Moore is a smart girl who has lived a tough life. Raised in a difficult foster care system, she’s spent a majority of her life bouncing around from home to home. This is why she’s buried herself in books. The classics to be specific. As she moved from place to place, these were the only things she could take with her. Tattered books that have been read so many times over that they’re memorized become more than entertainment. They are her friends. She escapes into their worlds whenever things become stressful.
When Samantha receives an offer of a full scholarship to Northwestern University’s prestigious Medill School of Journalism, she isn’t sure she wants to accept. Journalism isn’t really where she finds her passion. She’d much prefer to move into graduate school with those beloved friends, Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte. However, the scholarship requires that she study journalism and more than that, she must write letters to her anonymous benefactor and keep him apprised of her progress. She only knows that she’s to address the letters to Mr. Knightley.
It’s easy to send letters to someone you don’t know. It’s more like a journaling plan than a real correspondence. Especially because Mr. Knightley doesn’t respond to each missive.
Katherine Reay’s debut novel stunned me. I read books all the time. Every day in fact. This one’s been sitting on my shelf for a little while now as I worked through my required reading list and I wasn’t sure what to expect. But the tipping point came relatively quickly. (You know what that is. It’s that moment in a book when you know, for better or worse, that you’re completely hooked.) What caught me off guard was how much I was invested by that point. I thought this would be a light cake walk of a read. I never expected that I’d look around when I was done and feel like I was emerging from a cave.
I didn’t want this story to end. In fact, I wouldn’t even put the book down when I was done. I kept flipping back and forth through the book hoping that I had, by some strange chance, missed some section and could thoroughly devour it. It got so bad for me that I didn’t even want to pick up any other books from my stack. Seriously. This never happens to me.
Beyond just engaging characters and fabulous quotes from some of my favorite authors, Katherine Reay wove hurt, innocence and beauty into these characters. As layers get pulled back from each person we meet, more layers emerge. She brings these characters to far more than just a pretty romance. There’s depth and richness surrounding the healing that happens.
This was easily one of the best books I read in 2013 and it made me (very much) a Katherine Reay fangirl.