Friday, July 29, 2011

The Mailbox by Marybeth Whalen

The Mailbox by Marybeth Whalen

320 pages

Christian fiction

June 2010

This is a first novel by a non-fiction writer.  It is based on a true location in Sunset Beach, North Carolina and a mailbox on an isolated part of the beach where people leave letters to The Kindred Spirit.  The actual letters are collected but no one seems to know who maintains the box.   I would actually stop to find it if I'm ever in the area.

In the novel we meet Lindsey, a recent divorced mom of two kids, who has visited Sunset Beach every year since she was a teenager.  As a teenager, she fell in love with Campbell.  We learn about their story through the letters she leaves in the mailbox each year as well as some flashbacks in the novel.

Other reviewers have compared this to a Nicholas Sparks novel because of the heartbreak and second chances.  I will admit that I don't like Sparks that much.  Maybe I haven't read the right book.  The Mailbox was very predictable.  You probably already know how it ends, even from my brief description.

The author seemed to throw in every side plot she could think of:  divorce, cheating, anorexia, teenage pregnancy, heart attack, and multiple crises in faith.  In the end notes to the book, she even admitted that she almost had a secondary character die!  It was a little too much for me.  I kept thinking so what's going to go wrong now.

I really didn't hate the book - it just wasn't for me.  I did think the author did a good job weaving in the main characters' belief in God and how it wavered and strengthen throughout their lives.  I also liked Lindsey.  Her struggles to make sense of a divorce and its impact on herself and her kids were well-written and insightful.  I think I kept reading because of her character.

In a previous review, I commented that a really don't like everything.  Well, I really don't like everything.  I'm giving it 3 stars.  If you are a Sparks fan, you may like this.  If you have read it, I'd love to know what you think.

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