Monday, October 11, 2010

The Mailbox by Marybeth Whalen

Every now and then you run across a story that is so true-to-life, with characters real and layered up with history. This was such a book.

Let’s begin with the back cover copy:

Centered on a real landmark on the coast of North Carolina, The Mailbox blends intriguing folklore and true faith with raw contemporary issues that affect every woman.

When Lindsey Adams first visits the Kindred Spirit mailbox at Sunset Beach, she has no idea that twenty years later she will still be visiting the mailbox--still pouring out her heart in letters that summarize the best and worst parts of her life.

Returning to Sunset for her first vacation since her husband left her, Lindsey struggles to put her sorrow into words. Memories surface of her first love, Campbell--and the rejection that followed. When Campbell reappears in her life, Lindsey must decide whether to trust in love again or guard herself from greater pain. The Mailbox is a rich novel about loss, hope, and the beauty of second chances.

And now, my review:

I’m a sucker for beach stories. Oh, and letters. This novel has both. You’ll experience the youthful love of the hero and heroine, watch them grow up and lose their way in relationships, and then be drawn back to the beach where they re-encounter each other.

Through letters, Lindsey’s been reaching out the Kindred Spirit every summer since she was fifteen. (How cool is this real-life mailbox??!) She’s looking for help, intervention, a listening ear. Eventually, she learns Jesus wants to offer this to her. As a Christian reading the book, I was reminded of the wonderful access we have to God, the invitation to tell Him of our hurts and problems.

Campbell was human and real. I think readers will appreciate how relatable he was—he wants to be competent, but he’s weak. Lindsey will be hard-pressed to trust him after everything he’s done. And readers will eat up their interactions as adults, revisiting the mailbox, revisiting their past.

I like “reunion romances”—where the hero and heroine get another chance at love. So, this love story appealed to me. And perhaps it was the fact the story covered a long span of time, or the setting, or the mailbox, but this book engaged my imagination in ways few do.

Whalen does a great job of writing fiction. (Learn more about her co-written nonfiction book here and here.) She’s skilled at story-telling. I look forward to seeing more by this author.

If you enjoy contemporary romances, beach reads and/or love-letter stories, you’ll enjoy this novel.

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