At first I gave the book 4.5 stars, but I realized how much I enjoyed the book as I was retelling the books plot to my mother. It's just such a wonderful feel-good book. The kind that leaves you happy when you have finished reading it.
The Prayer Box is the first book in the Carolina Heirlooms series. There are also a couple of novellas you can read. I've read the last book in this series; The Sea Keeper's Daughters before I read this one and I was so enthralled by the book that I wanted to read the previous books in the trilogy.
Tandi Jo Reese has fled her old life and arrived on the Hatteras Island with her two children where she is renting a cottage that belongs to Iola Anne Poole. When Iola Anne Poole dies is Tandi worried that she wouldn't be allowed to stay at the cottage and she has no job and not much money left to support herself and her children. But she is lucky and she gets to stay if she cleans out Iola Anne Poole's house. There she discovers prayer boxes filled with letters that tell Iola Anne Poole life. While she reads the letters she discovers a new side to Iola Anne Poole that no one knows about and at the same time Tandi herself change. She get's a job and suddenly life seems a lot brighter...
I loved this story because you got to follow Tandi as she transforms from the wreck she was when she came to Hatteras Island to a new stronger person that's not controlled by the past. She is not a very good mother and she has a new boyfriend that isn't much better than the one she left behind in her old life. But reading the letters and making new friends slowly turns her life around.
I enjoy reading books that have a parallel story line and this was one especially good. It manages to not cross the line to become too saccharine. I was annoyed with Tandi's boyfriend Ross and Gina, Tandi's sister, but they played their roles in the story. They had to be there to make her realize that she could turn her life around and not be the person she was before. I was really proud of Tandi towards the end of the book.
I wrote in my review for The Sea Keeper's Daughters that you can read the books as stand-alone, but I would personally recommend you to read them from the beginning, because Tandi has a small part in The Sea Keeper's Daughters (don't know yet if she's in the second book) and it's probably more fun to read them in the right order.
Carolina Heirlooms series