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.
When I hear as much praise for a book as I have heard for The Prayer Box, I get a little nervous about reading it. What if it doesn’t live up to all the hype? Thankfully, this book did.
The Prayer Box is an ambitious novel that is not afraid to address hard issues. Yet, even as it discusses troubled childhoods and abuse, the writing of this story is so lyrical that it feels like reading poetry. I found myself reading slowly, wanting to savor the beauty of the words rather than rush through and see what happened in the end.
The characters were very real, and the author did an excellent job of weaving the stories of Iola’s past with the reality of Tandi’s present. Even though the book is fiction, the letters in the prayer box addressed some truths that made me think. When I was done reading it, I found myself wanting to go to the beach and write prayers for my own prayer box.
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys good Christian fiction. It has quickly become a new favorite, and I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did!
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