Review: The Prayer Box by Lisa Wingate

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Cover Rating:

Date Published: August 16, 2013
Pages: 400
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Author: Lisa Wingate
Genre: Christian Fiction, Contemporary
ISBN-10: 141438825X
ISBN-13: 978-1414388250
Book Source: I received this book for free from Tyndale House Publishers for my honest opinion.


When Iola Anne Poole, an old-timer on Hatteras Island, passes away in her bed at ninety-one, the struggling young mother in her 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 journeys of faith, observations on love, and one final lesson that could change everything for Tandi.

You can purchase it Here:
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Author Bio:

Lisa Wingate is a former journalist, inspirational speaker, and the author of twenty mainstream fiction novels, including the national bestseller, Tending Roses, now in its nineteenth printing. She is a seven-time ACFW Carol award nominee, a Christy Award nominee, an Oklahoma Book Award finalist, and a two-time Carol Award winner. Her novel, Blue Moon Bay, was a Booklist Top Ten of 2012 pick. Recently, the group Americans for More Civility, a kindness watchdog organization, selected Lisa along with Bill Ford, Camille Cosby, and six others, as recipients of the National Civies Award, which celebrates public figures who work to promote greater kindness and civility in American life.

You can find Lisa Here:
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Favorite Excerpt:

Dearest Father,

     Forgive me for not coming to this sooner, this writing to you.Time goes by in the storm-washed days, unpredictable moment to moment, a pouring in and then a washing away. The ocean is calm today, beautiful, sunlit, and placid all around. How difficult to imagine that it has rushed ashore, washed through buildings and cars, and wrestled boasts loose from their mooring lines. But what is left behind tells the tale. Trees down in the yard, mud against the pilings, and driftwood lining the nearby. On television, the news of businees destroyed and families waiting in line at the Salvation Army canteen trucks. Camping trailers prostrate in the surf, beached like the carcasses of great whales. Rubble on curbs. Houses that sit dark at night. No lights. No air. No families.
     Yet amid all this, there is the water of grace. It flows in all directions, seeping into the hidden crevices, the darkest spaces. It comes with the stranger who rows by in a kayak when the water is yet high. “Just checking. Do you need anything?” he asks. The grace water moves in meals from hand to hand, in blankets, in trucks filled with supplies, in young men wearing military uniforms, in old men carrying chain saws, in lamp oil and candles. Light passed from hand to hand.
     The water of grace. A sponge to thirsty lips. A trickle and then a flood.
     The rivers moves a mountain stone by stone, slowly widening it’s path, flowing over each of us, cutting into each of us, washing through the places that are hard, that would seperate us from one another, from you among us and withinus.
     After the storm, all are equal. All wanting. All needing. All in need of the water of grace from one another and from you.
     I think of these things, and the tides are multiplied. They flow over me, stronger and more potent than the tides of destruction. The debris of anger, of desperation, seeps away, little by little. A tiny stone and then another. A mountain moving. Moved by all that is right.
     There is so much good. So much grace. So much pouring into the river. A quiet water, this river of grace. Its work done in ways that do not seek attention. Yet it is there. Always there.
     A shrimp boat rests in a parking lot not far away. You have seen this, of course. Such a strange thing. I would ask your help for the shrimper. His home is lost. There is a family to feed, the humiliation of moving children to a public shelter, meals taken from a canteen truck. The starting of a new school year, the holidays just months away, and they have nothing.
     You know this man, I am certain, as you know each of us. You are always mindful.
     And then I wonder, am I to think of a way to aid this neighbor? Is this why I have seen him today? Can these tired old hands still cup the water, pour it out? This old body that creaks and groans with small efforst, can it yet serve?
     I think to myself,
What can I do?
     Then I look at this bit of paper, the one I have grabbed up because it was close at hand when I set about writing to you. I run a finger over the margins, touch the printed images. What does a lighthouse do?I ask myself. It never moves. It cannot hike up its rocky skirt and dash into the ocean to rescue the floundering ship. It cannot calm the waters or clear the shoals.
     It can only cast light into the darkness. It can only point the way.
     Yet, through one lighthouse, you guide many ships.
     Show this old lighthouse the way.

Your loving daughter,
Iola Anne


Tandi Jo Reese was running. Running from a controlling husband and a dangerous past. Running from an addiction to pain killers. She’s also running from a broken past, a father who was an alcoholic and a family life that left nothing to be desired. Odd how she winds back up on Hatteras Island, the place where it all began, the place of her youth. Tandi felt drawn to the Island for reasons she couldn’t explain. Moving into the cottage house of Iola Anne Poole was just the beginning of a new life for her and her two kids. When Iola dies suddenly, Tandi is given the option of living rent free in exchange for cleaning out Iola’s stately old mansion and she quickly agrees. When she finds 81 prayer boxes in the closet of the “Blue Room” she realizes she’s not just on a mission, but a life’s journey. As the life of Iola Anne Poole unfolds, Tandi’s life begins to change. With the help of Paul Chastain, a teacher at the local school, she sets out to prove something to the people of the Island. Can she find the life she’s always wanted hidden in the pages of those old letters? Can she find true love amidst the storm?

I loved Tandi Jo’s character. She had been dealt a hard life with nothing ever turning out the way she had hoped. Memories from the past gave her the mindset that no one could ever really love her. But she was a fighter and when she got knocked down she always came up swinging. She was determined not to let the things in life beat her down. She was a strong woman that had simply made some bad choices but when Iola’s letters started taking root in her soul she was like a flower opening up to the sun. She was at her best, I think, in difficult situations and I admired her determination.

Paul Chastain was my idea of a true hero. He sat quietly on the outskirts until he was needed. But, when he was needed, he rose to the occassion. He was a very caring and sensitive man and he always seemed to know what Tandi needed the most. He never tore her down but, instead, always built her up. He was her very own champion, always rooting for her on the sidelines. I think I fell in love just a little with his character.

The Prayer Box is such a beautiful yet heart-wrenching story. A tears-rolling-down-your-face story but, at the same time, it is filled with hope, love, faith. A story that really speaks to your soul. Lisa Wingate’s descriptions are so vivid you feel like you’re a part of the story. Iola’s letters to her Heavenly Father are like poetry on a page and showcase Lisa’s God-given gift of writing. It is a story that I will read several times over. If you liked The Wednesday Letters by Jason F. Wright you will love this book. I recommend it VERY HIGHLY!

My Rating:

**While I was given a free copy of this book for my honest opinion, I was in no way compensated for this review**


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