Adventure Between the Pages: Dear Mr. Knightley

2:56 PM

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Age Appropriate For: 16 and up for some subject matter
Best for Ages: 16 and up

Description: Samantha Moore survived years of darkness in the foster care system by hiding behind her favorite characters in literature, even adopting their very words. Her fictional friends give her an identity, albeit a borrowed one. But most importantly, they protect her from revealing her true self and encountering more pain. After college, Samantha receives an extraordinary opportunity. The anonymous “Mr. Knightley” offers her a full scholarship to earn her graduate degree at the prestigious Medill School of Journalism. The sole condition is that Sam write to Mr. Knightley regularly to keep him apprised of her progress. As Sam’s true identity begins to reveal itself through her letters, her heart begins to soften to those around her—a damaged teenager and fellow inhabitant of Grace House, her classmates at Medill, and, most powerfully, successful novelist Alex Powell. But just as Sam finally begins to trust, she learns that Alex has secrets of his own—secrets that, for better or for worse, make it impossible for Sam to hide behind either her characters or her letters.

It is nice to have a bunch of friends on Goodreads who also review books. I can see what they are reading and what they say about a book before I review it. I got Dear Mr. Knightley because I saw so many positive reviews coming across my Goodreads feed. I was not disappointed.

When I read about the book, I truly expected a cute romance with a lot of Jane Austen quotes. What I got was so much better. In fact, it was so amazing that I know it will be on my top 10 books of the year. I stayed up really, really late (or early if you want to get technical) because I HAD to finish the book that day. It was too  amazing to put down.
To tell you how good it was, I will tell you I actually teared up twice during the book, and I rarely do that with fiction. The story was so powerful. I felt so connected to Samantha. Her victories were my victories and her bad days were my bad days. I rode up and down her emotional roller-coaster and it left me feeling so amazing that I had a hard time getting to sleep.

So what made this book so powerful? The message hit home for me. Sam struggles with hiding behind her favorite literary characters to protect herself from the world around her. I saw myself in that. Sometimes, I hide behind books and movies so that I don’t have to deal with what is going on around me, or I hide behind them in conversations because I know people wouldn’t really like me if they knew the real me. Sam’s struggle was in many ways my own.

I don’t think any book since Catharine Marshall’s Christy has so deeply touched me and affected me. It made me want to open my heart even more to those around me, even if it means getting hurt.
Some may find the faith element somewhat lacking. When Sam finds God, there isn’t a huge deal made out of it. Surprisingly, this didn’t bother me in this book. Although not directly addressed, I felt that Sam was always searching for God and she found him through the people she was hanging with.

I loved the setup of this book! Telling the whole story though detailed letters is different and so much fun. It was a very engaging way of telling the story.

Yes, there was romance. To be honest, I wasn’t very surprised by it. I guess being a Jane Austen fan and an avid reader kind of gave away most of the plot twists where romance was concerned. However, even knowing the plot twists didn’t take away from how much I loved it.

I cannot wait for Katherine Reay’s next book! I highly recommend this to those looking not only for a good story, but one that isn’t all fluff and fun.

I received this book from Thomas Nelson though BookSneeze in exchange for my honest review. I was under no obligation to write a positive review. The opinions in this review are entirely my own.

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  1. Great review, Sarah! Before reading this, I hadn't known an epistolary novel could be so intriguing, but I loved DMK. I thought Sam's struggles were so real and relatable, and I loved all of the characters. :)

  2. Wow ... what you write reminds me of "Daddy Long Legs" but it sounds as if this book goes deeper into the heart of the story. Interesting. I'm so glad that you enjoyed it ... and are finding a chance to read in the midst of writing. So often I don't and I think my writing suffers as a consequence. It's important to read as well as write in the middle of writing a novel and good books (good characters, plots, writing, etc.) are a huge inspiration! Well done!