The Prayer Box
Genre: Women's Fiction
Summary (from Goodreads): 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.
Review: I have always enjoyed Lisa Wingate's tender Christian women's fiction, and this book was no exception. It's beautifully written and inspiring, with lyric descriptions and haunting prose. Having said that, the book was not without faults. It could just be the stage of life I'm in, but I could not get past the fact that Tandi Jo started out as a terrible, irresponsible mother who should have had her kids taken away. She showed a lot of growth throughout the novel, and ended up becoming closer to her children, but her primary focus still seemed to be meddling in Iola's life history (which was fascinating), her search for a steady job (which was responsible), her desire for a good romantic relationship (which was understandable) and then FINALLY her responsibility for her children. I understand that good characters need to have realistic and relate-able flaws, but she bordered on criminally neglectful (in my opinion).
Rating: 4 stars