I was in the mood for different and I got it with this one. I have read a few epistolary style books in the past and enjoyed the uniqueness of them. Having a story told entirely through letters can be a hit or miss thing for some people particularly because it places the writing all in first person and really takes one on a journey through the character’s mind. The book succeeds or fails all in how well the reader likes or at least is interested in that character.
When this story began, I was at the very least interested by the character of Sam Moore. She lives entirely in a world of books. She hides from real life and the people around her by channeling book characters and she gets down right ugly when anyone challenges her to come out from behind her walls. At no point did I feel dislike for her, but there were many times where my patience wore thin. In the end when her past life is revealed, I’m glad I stuck with her because on my soul I was pained by her horrid and painful past and totally got why she needed to build up the defense mechanisms she did. It just makes everything so much harder later, but I got it and understood her better. Much of the book is redemptive in nature and a coming of age in a way even if she’s a bit of a late bloomer. I found myself rooting for her to the very end to have it all. There are a few surprises in this story which I don’t want to blow so I won’t get to detailed with certain things in my summary. There are some themes that really challenge the thinking too. This is not a light, fluffy read nor is it easy. The heroine isn’t appealing much of the time, but tracking with her through her story is worth it in the end- at least for me.
Samantha Moore grew up in the foster care system and spent the most recent period in a group home run by Father John and Hannah. She tried living out on her own with a few roommates once and that didn’t work. She finished college and had a job, but got let go. Now Father John is pushing her toward a master’s degree program in journalism. Sam bristles at this because journalism really doesn’t appeal. She’s a literature and the classics sort of gal. She even channels her favorite literary characters particularly Jane Austen characters to express herself. She is not good with people and scares them off for the most part. Father John explains that this choice of journalism is to help her come out from behind her imaginary characters and to live in the moment as herself- the real Sam. Unfortunately there is no choice since no real jobs are forthcoming and she has no other place to be. The only stipulation of the foundation for paying her way is that she write to the founder who uses an anonymous name, George Knightley.
And so begins a new set of circumstances in Sam’s life which she chronicles faithfully to Mr. Knightley. She really has no idea how to function out amongst the people living in the real world and gets into all sorts of trying, embarrassing, sad, funny and painful situations. Through it all, she grows and slowly starts to emerge. Her gruff journalism professor keeps demanding more from her and she can’t seem to figure out what that more could be. She makes and loses friends because she is awkward before she tries again. She meets her favorite author, Alex Cross, and finds him to be so different from what she imagined yet he is still wonderful. She gets her first boyfriend. And she reaches out to another foster kid who is so like her though she messes that up too. But eventually she starts to figure things out and that’s when it gets interesting.
So in the end, I enjoyed this story. It wasn’t riveting, but it was definitely captivating in many ways. It’s not a traditional, formulaic romance though romance has its part. This is a sweet story with dark, gritty edges because of Sam’s past. I had my suspicions about Mr. Knightley and I also love all the side characters that cycled into Sam’s life. This book will not be for everyone since it’s written as a series of one-sided letters and its first person confessional style by a less than confident and definitely abnormal heroine. It’s slow of pace, and thoughtful in tone, but it does still challenge the emotions. It’s worth it for those looking for something a bit out of the ordinary and are in the mood for a sweet slow to build romance.
My thanks to Net Galley for the opportunity to read and review this book.