Sunday, 1 October 2017

Dear Reader by Mary O'Connell

Well this was a fun, cute little read that got a little weird towards the ending. Dear Reader by Mary O'Connell centres around 17-year-old catholic school girl Flannery Fields. Flannery is enamoured with her English teacher Miss Sweeney and their current reading material Wuthering Heights. When Miss Sweeney is a no-show at class one day Flannery makes it her mission to find her missing English teacher.

When the police are called into School, Flannery does all she can to help. She just can't quite part with Miss Sweeney's copy of Wuthering Heights which has transformed into Miss Sweeney's real-time diary. As Flannery sets off for New York City in search of her beloved teacher Flannery meets Heath Cliff, an English university student who helps her on her mission.

The book is told between Flannery's perspective and Miss Sweeney's diary and has the Wuthering Heights-esque use of convoluted language throughout. I did enjoy the flicking back and forward between Miss Sweeney's diary and Flannery's adventure. I remember being surprised that my teachers had a life outside of school. Flannery discovering her teacher's past as a student in New York is very reminiscent of that. It did feel like some of the heavier points of Miss Sweeney's past were glossed over. She is struggling with the death of an ex-boyfriend and taking anti-depressants -  serious issues which I didn't feel were given enough focus, even though they are integral to the ending of the story.

What I did enjoy about Dear Reader was Flannery's chapters were interspersed with thoughts of Miss Sweeney's critiques on her writing, which was very amusing. The ending was where it all fell apart for me though. Without giving too much away the ending felt like it belonged in another book. Flannery set off on her mission to find her teacher but the final chapter didn't seem to fit with her character arc at all which was unexpected and disappointing. Overall, Dear Reader is a cute and easy to read story, but one that didn't quite hit the mark.


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