Wingate is a fantastically prolific author of Christian and mainstream novels, including her nationally bestselling Tending Roses, which is now in its eighteenth printing (wow). Many of her other novels have captured awards. When not on the road as a motivational speaker, Wingate lives on a ranch in Texas with her husband and children.
About this book: When Iola Anne Poole, an old-timer on Hatteras Island, passes away in her bed at ninety-one, the struggling young mother in her rental cottage, Tandi Jo Reese, finds herself charged with the task of cleaning out Iola’s rambling Victorian house.
Running from a messy, dangerous past, Tandi never expects to find more than a temporary hiding place within Iola’s walls, but everything changes with the discovery of eighty-one carefully decorated prayer boxes, one for each year, spanning from Iola’s youth to her last days. Hidden in the boxes is the story of a lifetime, written on random bits of paper–the hopes and wishes, fears and thoughts of an unassuming but complex woman passing through the seasons of an extraordinary, unsung life filled with journeys of faith, observations on love, and one final lesson that could change everything for Tandi.
Judge this book by its cover? Love it. Yes.
Reminds me of…Karen White (with shades of Christina Baker Kline’s Orphan Train and Julie Kibler’s Calling Me Home)
Buy or borrow? Buy. May be especially appealing to moms and cat lovers.
Why did I read this book? For Tyndale for review.
Would I read another by this author? Anytime.
My take: Every page of this novel amazed and moved me, often also prompting just a wee bit of envy that so much talent should reside in one single writer.
With fresh prose and evocative word pictures, Lisa Wingate moves her readers into the life of Tandi Reese, a single mom with a troubled past who hovers on the brink of change–for better or worse. Tandi’s quest to solve the mystery of Iola Anne Poole’s life becomes the reader’s own. And Tandi’s journey of discovery through Iola’s left-behind letters to God promises hope and transformation not only for her, but for the reader as well.
I loved the sweetly developing relationship between Tandi and Paul. (In my mind, I pictured this winsome character as a cross between Jim of The Office and Wooten of Adventures in Odyssey. I know. But somehow it works.) I also thoroughly enjoyed Tandi’s love-hate relationship with Iola’s cat and was heart-glad when Tandi connected meaningfully with the ladies at Sandy’s Seashell Shop. I appreciated the subtle faith message and how deftly Wingate wove it into the story. And the story’s final twist brought Tandi’s journey to its full, satisfying conclusion.
All in all, I was stunned by the beauty of this story and its timeless message of grace and hope. The Prayer Box is Lisa Wingate at her finest.
Thanks to Tyndale for providing me a free copy to review. All opinions are mine.
Learn more about the author and her books at LisaWingate.com. Also check out this teaser, in which she talks about her hope for what her readers will take away from The Prayer Box.