The Prayer Box (click book or see below for description)
By Lisa Wingate
Downloaded free on 7/15/14 through Amazon
Finish Time: 6ish nights. Another book that got me through my move. And a great one to do so. This book had it all and was really a great read and as I started writing my review – realized it would be only my 2nd 5 bone review of the year! I really liked it!
Meet Tandi. A newly single mom, running away from an awful past with her 2 kids, not knowing where her next paycheck is coming from, just trying to get by and figure out who she is. She rents a cottage in on Hatteras Island (which sounds beautiful!), quickly goes through what money she received from her divorce, and scrambles to figure out what is next. The cottage or bungalow, as a few call it, is owned by a woman, Iola Anne Poole, who we never meet in person in the book, but really the story is just as much about her as it is Tandi.
Tandi never met her landlord, but when she needed her one day, she ventured over to the “main house” on her property, where Iola lives, only to find her passed away. Panicked and afraid of what will happen next, Tandi does the right thing and calls the police, but it was a weird struggle for me whether to trust her or not. Throughout the book we learn more about Tandi’s past, and it comes to make sense, but I could never tell if she would do the right thing, or had the right intentions. She does have a big heart, but she is also getting pretty desperate, so who knows what that will drive someone to do. So it took me some time to trust her (not that I have to trust my main characters) but I guess as any relationship, that was all part of it and I felt made for a great story.
In fear of losing her house and on edge, Tandi is approached by the church, who has taken control of the property, to clean it out in exchange for staying in her bungalow. And as she starts sorting through Iola’s things, she discovers more than she bargained for, but in a good way. Iola didn’t have the best reputation on Hatteras Island, most thought she deceived an old man into getting control of her estate. But like most rumors, no one had all the details, and Tandi made it her mission (after much thought) to bring out Iola’s story. Which was truly fascinating.
Oh and I should probably mention the prayer boxes in the title. That is how Tandi learned everything about Iola. From a young age, not having a confidant, Iola begins writing letters to her father, which Tandi learned (a bit slower than I did) is the Almighty Father in heaven, so they are not letters, but prayers. Through joy and tears, Tandi is transported into Iola’s past and learns so much more about this woman who had an amazingly big heart, but preferred to remain in the background.
I’ve already rambled on a lot and feel I haven’t even touched the story. Throw in a (not so appreciative) boyfriend, a terrifying ex-husband, nosy townspeople, her sister, that cute dorky guy from church, her kids, a sea shell stop, the handy-woman hidden inside her, and an open heart for the Lord, really this story had it all. Really it does. You won’t be disappointed – check it out!
Description from Amazon:
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.