There was a lot to like about Dear Mr. Knightley. This is the story, told only through letters to her benefactor, of journalism student Samantha. Sam lives in a group home, and to escape her tragic past, she spends all of her time with her head in a book. Over the course of a year, her life changes dramatically for the better, and we get to read her version of it as it unfolds.
I really enjoyed the way that 99% of the story is told through letters. Letter writing is a lost art, and I miss it. How great would it be to get long, detailed letters a few times a week, especially if you weren’t expected to write back?
I thought the story did a fair job representing what it might be like to grow up in foster care. I certainly can’t relate to any situation even close to what happened to Sam that made her the way that she is. Sam can’t form bonds with people, she can’t interact without incident, she has very few friends, and has a very poor self- image. But of course she does. Her formative years were horrible, and her parents treated her abysmally.
The story also made me want the best for Sam, and especially for her friend Kyle. Learning about the foster system — Both the positives and the negatives — was definitely enlightening. The bond between these two characters, based solely upon the fact that they had no one else in the world, became something quite lovely.
But sadly, the stuff that I didn’t like about this book seems to outweigh the stuff I liked.
Sam was not a very likable person. She was really quite annoying. Of course I have a ton of empathy for her, but I still just didn’t like her. And I didn’t get what everyone else saw in her that was so special.
Sam was supposed to be a super-talented writer, but her letters weren’t so well written. I wanted to pull out a red pen and mark them up. I was glad when her professors took her down a notch.
I hated how Sam would use quotations from classic literature to make her point in conversations. I thought it was cute at first, but quickly became somewhat obnoxious.
And the end? So creepy.
Of course I saw it coming from a mile away, but still. Really kind of icky.
All in all, not a bad read. I just wish I had liked Sam — and her writing — a bit more.