Friday, August 25, 2017

Dear Reader by Mary O'Connell

Dear Reader by Mary O'Connell
Release Date -  June 13, 2017
Publisher Website - Raincoast
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages -  295 pages
My Rating - unable to rate
**received for an honest review from publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Gilmore Girls with magical realism! Dear Reader is an original, poignant modern-day take on Wuthering Heights, as a high school senior searches for her teacher and meets a boy who may just be Heathcliff come to life

For seventeen-year-old Flannery Fields, the only respite from the plaid-skirted mean girls at Sacred Heart High School at is her beloved teacher Miss Sweeney’s AP English class. But when Miss Sweeney doesn't show up to teach Flannery's favorite book, Wuthering Heights, leaving behind her purse, Flannery knows something is wrong.

The police are called, and Flannery gives them everything—except Miss Sweeney's copy of Wuthering Heights. This she holds onto. And good thing she does, because when she opens it, it has somehow transformed into Miss Sweeney's real-time diary. It seems Miss Sweeney is in New York City—and she's in trouble.

So Flannery does something very unFlannery-like: she skips school and sets out for Manhattan, with the book as her guide. But as soon as she arrives, she meets a boy named Heath. Heath is British, on a gap year, incredibly smart—yet he's never heard of Albert Einstein or Anne Frank. In fact, Flannery can't help thinking that he seems to have stepped from the pages of Brontë's novel. Could it be?

With inimitable wit and heart, Mary O'Connell has crafted a love letter to reading, to the books that make us who we are. Dear Reader, charming and heartbreaking, is a novel about finding your people, on the page in the world.
You may have noticed the lack of rating on this review. It was a choice I made so I am not even sure what I would rate this book. Dear Reader, for me, ended up being a mixed read for me, but one where the elements I liked were outweighed by the elements I didn't.

This is perhaps one of the most unique books I have read. I immediately was invested in the magical elements to the story. This magical book that allowed Flannery to follow her teacher's journey. The cute boy who bares more than a passing resemblance to Wuthering Height's Heathcliff. It's charming and the romance is equally charming. I would have liked the book more if it had focused on this part of the story. It really is the most readable part of the novel, and I even enjoyed the ambiguous end to the Heath mystery. It worked within the confines of the story being created and, in my opinion, should have been the main mystery of the story.

The character of Flannery has a very distinct voice and way of thinking and talking. The writing strongly captures that voice, and is perhaps the strongest element of the story. Flannery as a character is great. She is dealing with a lot of the worries teens deal with and is immediately recognizable as someone you might know. The idea of blossoming in college, and finding how you are and 'your people' is a clear theme and one that I think would clearly resonate with readers. I just wish it had been more of a presence overall.

I had a major issue with the ending of the book, and how it dealt with the mental health issues that were present in the narrative of the novel. It, sadly, is what stuck with me the most after finishing this book. If you are curious, you can read the VERY SPOILERY information within the spoiler tags. It details the ending of the novel, so be forewarned.

There were plenty of interesting elements to this story but for me they were, sadly, overshadowed by the other no so good elements. It's a story that I feel tried to do too much and didn't expand on elements that needed it. I, sadly, think I might be weary to try another book by this author unless I had heard great things. It is a shame, because the writing style itself appealed to me, but the story choices didn't. 

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