Friday, September 4, 2015

The Prayer Box by Lisa Wingate

These things I do, this melody of an ordinary day, keep the hours in order…Strange to think of that. The song of an ordinary life. Mine would be in these letters to you.
        When Iola Anne Poole, an old-timer on Hatteras Island, passes away in her bed at ninety-one, the struggling young mother in Iola’s 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 lessons in faith, observations on love, and one final lesson that could change everything.

        The Prayer Box by Lisa Wingate is the first book in Lisa Wingate’s Carolina Heirlooms series. Up until this point, I hadn’t read anything by Lisa, but I am so glad I took a chance and picked up this book. It is such a sweet story of pain, heartbreak, and redemption, and it was impossible for me to put it down. I loved finding out bits and pieces of Iola’s story along with Tandi, and I really enjoyed how Tandi’s true character and past was revealed as she got deeper and deeper into Iola’s prayer boxes. And the way everything tied together; oh my word it was such a perfect ending. I couldn’t get enough of it.
        Let me tell you about Tandi for a second. After all that she had been through, I don’t really blame her for having such a mess of a life. Honestly, I felt so much compassion for her as all the details of her life came out into the open. Add that to the way she rallied herself on multiple occasions, and you cannot help but love her. As she learns more and more about Iola and her perspective changes, I found myself loving her more and more. Forget the fact that she was at least ten years older than me; I felt that if I lived on Hatteras (which would be wonderful actually) we would be the closest of friends.
        Iola was also a wonderful woman. Forget the fact that we don’t really see her as a main character, per se (that would be difficult since she’s not alive during 90 percent of this book), you experience enough of her story to really know her. As I learned more and more about her, I was amazed at how wonderful a woman she was! Her faith was so strong, despite all that she had to go through. And I love the prayer box idea. I almost want to start one. That may be in my near future.
        Oh, and I can’t forget about the love interest! Since he isn’t mentioned on the back cover, I won’t name any names so I don’t spoil it for you, but let me just say, he is such a sweet guy! And he’s so supportive of Tandi, no matter what she says or does, or what he learns about her past. I feel like he really related to her in a way, through his own painful past, even though their stories were totally different. And I just couldn’t help loving him more every minute. He really is such a sweetheart!
        Anyway, I really loved this book, and how touching its story was to me. Iola’s faith was an inspiration, and honestly, so was the faith of Mr. “Love Interest”. They both showed me things about how to have a wonderful relationship with God, and that was such a blessing to me. Since this book not only inspired me, but also was enjoyable and extremely well written, I cannot help but give it all five bookshelves. I know I will never forget this book, but rather will love it forever, and I cannot wait to read the other two in the series. Lisa really is an extremely talented writer, and I am looking forward to reading more of her works in the future!
        Happy reading!

You can purchase any of the books in the Carolina Heirlooms series here!
Linking up at Friday Favorites.

All credit for the italicized synopsis goes to Lisa Wingate and Tyndale House Publishers.

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