- The prayer box / by Lisa Wingate.
- Waterville, Maine : Thorndike Press, 2013.
- 9781410460875 (hardcover); $26.42
- 1410460878 (hardcover)
- 9781482951677 (CD) : $29.99
- 522 pages
- 8 audio discs (9 1/2 hr.)
- Hardcover large print
- eAudio Book
- pre-loaded Audio Player
Christian fiction; women’s fiction
Tandi Jo Reese, a single mother in need of a fresh start, finds unexpected help in the prayers of her deceased landlady.
Tandi Jo Reese, running from a dangerous marriage and an addiction to pain pills, needs a new start. She hopes that is exactly what she and her children will get in their new place on Hatteras Island. When her landlady, Iola Anne Poole, passes away at the age of 91, that new life is offered to Tandi in unexpected ways. A lifetime of prayers hidden in boxes brings healing and hope to Tandi, her children, and ultimately to the whole community.
Through the device of the prayer letters we get to share the struggles and triumphs of both Tandi and Iola. Though Iola’s challenges were very different from Tandi’s, her indomitable spirit and generosity inspire Tandi to have faith and to reach out beyond herself and her circumstances. Even in her death, Iola introduces Tandi to the people of the community who will embrace her and her children and help them start the new life they need. In return, Tandi shows skeptics in the community who Iola Anne Poole really was, bringing honor to Iola and to the cause she served of preserving the island and the community.
The Prayer Box is a wonderful inspirational novel. Lisa Wingate is very adept at plumbing the depths of the heart, and this novel is an example of her ability to write a moving, engaging story. She reminds us that we often don’t know people as well as we think we do. We have to be willing to look beyond our presuppositions and prejudices and see the true person.
It is also a story of redemption. In the beginning, the reader may react strongly to Tandi’s parenting habits and how it has affected her children. But as the story progresses, we cheer on her efforts to change and hope with her that it’s not too late.
Lisa Wingate writes lyrical prose, such as this line from the beginning of Chapter 1: “The memory falls over me like a blanket, a worn quilt of sand and sky, the fibers washed soft with time. I wrap it around myself, picture the house along the shore, its bones bare to the wind and the sun, the wooden shingles clinging loosely, sliding to the ground now and then, like scales from some mythical sea creature washed ashore.”
For this book, I read both the print and audio version. The narrator is Xe Sands. Sands has a lyrical quality to her voice which fits the author’s writing style well, but is also somewhat breathy, especially in her voicing of Iola Anne, which can make it hard to understand what she is saying. The sound production is good, with just the right volume. This book was equally enjoyable in reading and listening.
Visit the author’s website.
Video interview with Christianbook.com
Interview with Deep South Magazine.
This novel will appeal to readers who like moving, touching stories about the lives of women, and to those who are drawn to lyrical prose.
The Mitford Series, by Jan Karon. This series shares with The Prayer Box a small town setting, appeal factors of heartwarming and engaging, and the genre of Christian Fiction.
Karen Kingsbury (author readalike). Karen Kingsbury writes heartwarming, engaging Christian fiction that shares many qualities with Lisa Wingate novels.
House of Secrets, by Tracie Peterson. These novels share the genre Christian Women’s Fiction and the topic of painful childhood memories affecting women’s lives.
The best booktalk would include quotes of Wingate’s beautiful, lyrical writing. It could include bits and pieces of Iola’s prayers and the impact this had on Tandi, especially the prayers for the Mulberry Girl.
What drew Tandi to Hatteras Island when she was on the run? Is there a place in your history that draws your thoughts in times of trouble? Could you go back there?
Why does Tandi connect so deeply to Iola? How does this help her become the person and mother she wants to be?
Why could the people of Hatteras not see the good things that Iola had done for them? Have you ever been blinded by a misperception of someone?
In a letter, Isabelle tells Iola Anne, “Don’t you know that sisters are created not by blood but by love?” Does this statement ring true to you? Do you have a sister of love?
Why I chose this book
I am a long-time fan of Lisa Wingate. I would read anything written by her. I loved the idea of the prayer boxes.
Prayer box; Hatteras Island; seashells
An audio book takes a different level of concentration from print. In reading print, your eyes have to do the work together with the brain. With audio, it is much easier to let your mind wander to other things and miss part of the story.