About the book:
Can a simple mailbox reunite two wounded souls?
A rural mailbox stands alone on an isolated North Carolina beach, and within its unobtrusive confines lay the hopes and dreams, the heartaches and joys of countless strangers. Tending the lone mailbox on this deserted beach is an anonymous reader called the Kindred Spirit…drawing hearts toward healing and hope. Marybeth Whalen's debut novel, The Mailbox, is set around this real-life landmark. She explores the possibility that this isolated and mysterious message center can reunite two people who have been separated by a lifetime of regret and confusion. Because of the mailbox, second chances arise in the face of painful loss, and the promise that enduring love and faith can overcome the destruction of long-kept secrets rings true.
Lindsey Adams begins her visits to the Kindred Spirit mailbox as a young teen. There, she finds her first love, Campbell Forrester. But twenty years later, she returns to the beach as a woman whose husband, Grant, has divorced her after a string of infidelities. Remembering her first love, and wondering whatever became of Campbell, Lindsey allows the salty beach air to reengage her sense of hope. She begins to imagine that Campbell might not be long lost after all.
Meanwhile, Campbell faces his own hardships—including his broken relationship with his daughter and his longing to undo his inadequacies as a father. When Campbell learns that Lindsey has returned to the beach, he cannot help but feel hopeful that he may discover love again.
Whalen's heartfelt and freshly evoked story explores how memories—and good-old-fashioned, hand-written letters—can not only haunt us, but also can heal us. She explores the memories of first romance while also taking a look at painful life circumstances. Marriage, parenting, and personal integrity are brought into focus in this edgy romance, as is the struggle to come to terms with God's love for us and His plan for our lives. Using letters from the Kindred Spirit mailbox, Whalen delves into the hearts of two people who truly desire to experience the transformation of enduring love.
Loved, loved, loved this novel. I love the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It's been far too many years since I was there, but I have very fond, warm memories of spending time on Okracoke and Cape Hatteras. So, the North Carolina beach setting of this story was appealing to me. I've never been to Sunset Beach, which is south, near the North/South Carolina border, but I certainly want to go now. I want to visit the Kindred Spirit mailbox, which is a real mailbox on Bird Island.
The story is told through narration and letters spanning a period of 20 years. Lindsey and Campbell are the classic teen summer romance separated by choices and time. Reunited once again, they each have baggage and issues to work through with ex-spouses and angry, hurt children. But, both also learn that God knows and loves them and they each realize they've been given a second chance at love.
The description of the mailbox and the real person who secretly cares for it and keeps the letters was fascinating. I know nothing about the real mailbox or if there is a person who retrieves the letters and keeps it stocked with writing supplies. I almost hope so, because it seems like such a tender, sweet thing to do.
I would have loved more exploration about Nikki's history, which is something she hints at with her father, but is something we never learn.
In many ways, this should simply be a sappy Nicholas Sparks-esque piece of drivel. But, instead, it's a thoughtful, heartwarming, well written story. I'd say it's a terrific debut novel and I look forward to many more from Marybeth Whalen.
Thanks to First Wildcard, David C. Cook Publishing, and Audra Jennings of the B&B Media Group for the opportunity to review this book. You can read the first chapter here. You can learn more about Marybeth Whalen here. You can purchase your own copy here.
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