Goodreads Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Lisa Wingate has written over 30 novels, many of which are in series of three to six books. The Prayer Box is the first of six books in Carolina Heirlooms. Although it is a part of a series, the book can be read by itself; so you don’t have to feel obligated to read through all of them because they end in cliffhangers.
The Prayer Box was recommended to me by my grandma a few months ago. It is about a mother with two children who escapes her old life and tries to start over in the Outer Banks. Even though Tandi is far away from her ex-husband, her past continues to show up. When their landlord, Iola Anne Poole dies, Tandi is tasked with cleaning out Iola’s big, old house that she lived in. While cleaning out the house Tandi discovers a lot of prayer boxes that Iola contributed letters to God to throughout her life. Through reading these letters Tandi learns all about the mysterious old lady who lived in the big house. But through reading them she discovers even more about herself.
In the beginning of the story I was not sure if I would like it. But after getting a couple of chapters in and getting a better handle on the characters, I found myself thinking about the book during the day. There were so many snippets of the story that I enjoyed. One was how the character, Paul was described. Wingate wrote, “I pictured him a little like Andy Griffith, with little boy Paul in the Opie role” (204). That description provides a clear image of how Wingate imagined Paul to look and act in my opinion. The book was full of inspirational quotes that I highlighted and saved on Goodreads—most are found in Iola’s letters. “The trouble with drowning in the mess of your own life is that you’re not in any shape to save anyone else. You can’t be a lighthouse when you’re underwater yourself (304)”. Many of the metaphors or examples revolved around the water and beach. They help you to keep your mind in the Outer Banks for the entire novel.
My one complaint about the novel is that Tandi’s thoughts were too drawn out. For example, after she reads a letter, there is a paragraph of questions Tandi has about that one letter. Here is one on page 175.
Could something like that explain why Iola’s mother would agree to send her away? Did she really believe it was best for Iola, or was it just convenient—a compromise made in order to keep a job, to maintain a life that was comfortable? Was her ten- year-old daughter the price she had to pay to please Monsieur and Madame? Would a mother sell her child for so little?
It felt like Wingate was trying to force me to think about the letter, which I would have on my own. With these paragraphs of thoughts, the reader is not able to really wonder about the novel or any possible scenarios on their own because all the possibilities are already written out as questions Tandi immediately thought.
Otherwise, I really enjoyed the novel. Wingate’s most recent book is called, Before We Were Yours and I am interested to read it. You can find more about Lisa Wingate on her website: https://lisawingate.com/.