Review: DEAR MR. KNIGHTLEY / by Katherine Reay

Dear Mr. Knightley / Katherine Reay
Tyndale House     ISBN     9781414378411
High School (Adult) Grades 9-12     Rating: 4

dearmrknightlye

Katherine Reay makes her debut with Dear Mr. Knightley, a contemporary novel of letters. Samantha Moore receives a private scholarship to Northwestern University; the only catch: she must write letters to the donor.

In Dear Mr. Knightley, Samantha endures her foster care childhood by hiding in the pages of literature, even quoting them or choosing to behave the way a particular character would act. Then a mysterious benefactor offers her a scholarship to graduate school. The donor – known to her as Mr. Knightley – asks Sam to write letters to him on a regular basis without him responding.

The letters start out conversationally, moving to a confessional tone, as Samantha learns more about life and reveals it in her letters. She breaks out of her shell and begins to live in the moment. Slowly her frozen heart begins to warm up to others, including a young teen boy, others at the foster care home, and her classmates. One day she meets an author she admires, Alex Powell, and life really begins to change for her.

Reay does a good job of letting us get to know Sam and Mr. Knightley through Sam’s letters. We see excellent character development as Sam embraces who she was meant to be. Dear Mr. Knightley is a delightful read, one that will leave the reader pondering questions about how they hide from others, even those closest to them.

In the beginning, Sam states she does not forgive — but in the end, she does because of who she becomes through the entire process. The revelation of Mr. Knightley’s identity nearly shatters her, but she emerges stronger than before. The novel includes discussion questions, Q&A with the author, and Sam’s reading list.

Recommended for public libraries and church libraries.

Disclaimer: Book reviews are my opinion of books I either purchased or received free of cost from the publisher in exchange for a honest review.

Carol R. Gehringer

— Reprinted with permission, Christian Library Journal, 2014.

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