Tuesday, July 27, 2010


This book came highly recommended to me. It’s a quick, easy read and, although I’m not usually into non-fiction, I decided to give it a try. I’m glad I did.

Viktor Frankl survived several Nazi concentration camps during WWII. As a physician specializing in psychiatry, he witnessed and learned from people’s reactions to life in the camps, and to other adverse situations. He advocates Logotherapy, and gives examples of how its use helps find a meaning for life, no matter how difficult life might be at the time.

Unlike some psychological ideologies, Logotherapy doesn’t dwell on digging up the past or facing one’s fears. Instead, it appears to center on the positive, or at least find something positive to focus on in every circumstance instead of the negative. It has proven very helpful for those who are depressed or considering suicide.

This book is divided into two sections. The first half gives accounts of Dr. Frankl’s survival in Nazi concentration camps. Despite the horrors that existed there, his presentation is well done, and makes an excellent argument for his support of Logotherapy.

Man’s Search for Meaning has survived to see nearly one hundred English printings and publication in 21 other languages. English editions alone have sold more than three million copies. I hope that convinces you that it is worth reading!
– Gail Lewis

Product Details:
Trade Paperback: Approx. 180 pages
Language: English (and others)
Publisher: Touchstone by Simon & Schuster,
     Beacon Press and others.
ISBN: 0-671-24422-1

At this writing Amazon.com has 458 reviews for this book, and 373 give it 5 stars! It's been a popular book for over six decades and remains so.

Monday, July 26, 2010

VANISHING ACT by Liz Johnson

Vanishing Act is a fun read for the inspirational suspense/romance afficiando. Ms. Johnson does a good job of keeping you guessing throughout the story as to who is the bad guy and who is the good guy.

The storyline is imaginative. Our heroine, Nora James, witnessed the shooting of her father in a back alley and barely escaped the same fate herself. Now on the run from an assassin hired by the crime boss who shot her father, Nora must disappear and stay hidden.
Enter FBI Special Agent Nate Andersen, whose job it is to find Nora and protect her from the assassin. A twist of fate has him stumble upon her unwittingly, and so begins the cat-and-mouse game of uncovering the identity of the assassin without becoming victims themselves. True to a romance, an 'impossible' attraction develops between Nora--who cannot become involved with anyone for fear of endangering them--and Nate, who has a troublesome background of his own when it comes to romantic involvements.

As with most inspirational romances, it's not the destination, it's the journey. The satisfying ending must be reached in a believable, thought-provoking and entertaining way. Ms. Johnson achieves that in Vanishing Act.
—Bruce Judisch

Product Details:
Mass Market Paperback: 224 pages
Language: English
Publisher: Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense
ISBN: 978-0-37344-406-9

Saturday, July 24, 2010


In the late 1990’s I picked up a pocket paperback at a garage sale. Published in 1994, the book became one of the most memorable books I’ve ever read. It follows the life of Lady Alice, a British woman living in the 1940’s who married an Egyptian Muslim, Dr. Ibrahim Rasheed, and moved into his family’s home. She, and the daughter she later had, were greatly impacted by a culture foreign to the west. The practices of her mother-in-law, sisters-in-law and nieces sometimes shocked her as she struggled to protect her daughter from becoming like them.

After reading The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini, my memory of Virgins of Paradise Street returned full force and I wanted to read it again. Thinking an old copy might turn up on Half.com, I went looking for it. It turns out Barbara Wood republished the book as Virgins of Paradise in 2007. It was that copy which I acquired and re-read. She re-edited the book, adding, enhancing, and fleshing out the original version.

Virgins of Paradise delves into the personalities and conflicts of several women, as well as the male Muslim doctor. You’ll find yourself empathizing with each of the women who, though very different, suffer under the same oppressive system. There’s also a mystery surrounding Amira, the doctor’s mother, that will keep you wondering as you read.

Don’t let the title put you off. Virgins of Paradise is a fascinating and enlightening read. If you enjoyed The Kite Runner, you will certainly like this book. I think it is even better than either of Khaled Hosseini’s novels…possibly because it’s written from a woman’s perspective, but also because Woods successfully weaves several fascinating stories into one. I highly recommend Virgins of Paradise by Barbara Wood.
– Gail Lewis

Product Details:
Trade Paperback: 471 pages
Language: English
Publisher: Random House & iUniverse
ISBN: 978-0-595-43333-9

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

BE NOT AFRAID by Deborah Lynne

I don't need to tell you Be Not Afraid is suspenseful. Just look at the cover. Neither do I need to tell you it carries a thread of hope and inspiration throughout the story. Just look at the title.
Ms. Lynne has conceived a fascinating storyline that captured me at the very beginning. Our heroine, Samantha Cain, is the widow of a policeman. The entire 3rd Precinct where her late husband, Martin, worked blames her for his death. Now, her own life is threatened by a serial killer who thinks she can identify him. Samantha is forced to rely on the protection of Detective Matthew Jefferies who is not only from the 3rd Precinct, but is her husband's former partner. How does conflict get any better than that?

The psychotic killer is not interested in doing away with Samantha immediately. He plays with her mind, wants her to know he can drop her at will and there's nothing she can do about it. Reminiscent of the movie Play Misty for Me, at every scene you're on the edge of your seat in anticipation of the next physical or psychological attack, wondering when he will make the final move of the game.

Samantha leans on her faith to sustain her, as her trust in the police force is at an all-time low from the treatment she received after Martin's suicide. Matthew struggles with his own insecurities and prejudices as he protects Samantha and tries to track down the killer before he strikes again. And neither of them understand, nor welcome a growing attraction they discover for each other.

Ms. Lynne develops a great story culminating in an unexpected showdown scene between Samantha and the killer. She keeps the tension up throughout, but doesn't exhaust the reader—at least, not unduly. ;-)

Good show, Deborah! When's the next book coming out?
—Bruce Judisch

Product Details:
Trade Paperback: 216 pages
Language: English
Publisher: OakTara
ISBN: 978-1-60290-229-9

Sunday, July 18, 2010

GOING ROGUE by Sarah Palin

I’m an avid reader of fiction and not usually crazy about non-fiction or biographical books. I tend to flip through them, scan and read what I like, leaving the rest. As a fan of Sarah Palin, I wanted to get her book, but expected to treat it like others in its genre.

With Going Rogue, however, I found myself reading the entire book cover to cover and not skipping a word. I enjoyed learning more about Alaska than I’d ever known before, and grateful to gain knowledge of a political process that previously left me disinterested.

Unlike so many famous people who use ghost writers for their biographies, Sarah is an excellent writer and I believe primarily penned this herself. She candidly talks about her family and her journey into and through the pitfalls of politics. Although this book reflects it well, I didn’t need convincing to believe in her integrity. Now, if anything, I believe even more strongly in this moral, common sense woman’s goals for our country.

It’s too bad this book can’t be made a “must read” in all high school curriculums. It’s not that everyone should be required to learn more about Alaska, as fascinating as that is … but to better understand the workings of politics from the local level all the way to the top.

Sarah Palin’s optimism for our country is very encouraging. This book deserves open-minded consideration regardless of your politics. The next few years will be crucial for the United States, and I highly recommend this book to everyone.
— Gail Lewis

Product Details:
Hard Cover:  413 pages
Language:  English
Publisher:  HarperCollins
ISBN:  978-0-06-193989-1

Sunday, July 11, 2010


The tagline for Bruce Judisch’s The Word Fulfilled, The story you thought you knew…gives fair warning that the ensuing story will be neither uncomplicated nor predictable.

The prophet Jonah leaves family and friends in Gath-hepher and heads for Damascus. His ultimate destination is, of course, Nineveh where he plans to deliver God’s message of pending doom and destruction and then head for home before the walls begin to crumble. And so this reluctant prophet heads across the trackless desert, never imagining the convergence of destinies awaiting him.

Sinister forces shadow him throughout his journey, but somehow Jonah always manages to sidestep tragedy. Is this a series of curious coincidences, or could it be Godly intervention?

Meanwhile, in the Assyrian Capitol of Kalḫu the King’s advisors are struggling to make sense of a series of puzzling omens. Clearly something big is about to happen…but what? Strange things are happening in Nineveh as well. A young initiate, sent to the Temple of Ishtar for her coming of age rituals, finds herself inexplicably drawn into a web of intrigue and power struggles. Much later she will come to see the hand of God in the events swirling around her, but for now it only confuses her and the strange young man who’s fallen in love with her from afar.

Jonah’s message of pending judgment causes panic in the city. But God uses the chaos swirling around the Temple, the city, and Jonah’s newfound friends, to blend myriad lives into a grand finale that fulfills His divine plan.

The Word Fulfilled has a cast of interesting and endearing characters moving within an historically accurate depiction of Old Testament places and events. Well-written and entertaining, the book combines multiple story lines and, with edge-of-your-seat suspense, carries them ever forward to a thoroughly satisfying conclusion. Be warned. If you pick it up, you won’t want to put it down.

Bruce Judisch’s pair of A Prophet’s Tale books, coupled with their prequel Ben Amittai; The Call, chronicle the life of the prophet Jonah from his earliest call to the completion of his ultimate mission.
- E.G. Lewis

Product Details:
Trade Paperback: 352 pages
Language: English
Publisher: OakTara
ISBN: 978-1-60290-225-1

DISCIPLE by E.G. Lewis

Disciple is a worthy sequel to Witness, EG Lewis's well researched and skillfully told novelization of the early Christian Church as recounted in the Biblical book of Acts.

This second book in the Seeds of Christianity series finds Shemuel and Rivka becoming followers of The Way of Yeshua. In doing so, they endure the persecution of the ruling religious elite and shunning by their common Jewish brethren. No longer able to sell his lambs to the Temple, Shemuel moves his family to Jerusalem, only to discover life is no easier as a wood carver and physician there than shepherding was in their hometown of Bethlehem. When the twelve apostles spread out through the known world in obedience to the Great Commission, Shemuel and Rivka accompany Peter to Antioch. There they meet both tribulation and victory as they plant and nuture the congregation that will become the first to be dubbed as Christians. The plot tightens and reaches its catharsis in intense crises affecting not only Shemuel's personal life, but that of the young church.

Mr. Lewis faithfully tracks the events of Acts, filling in realistic scenarios and vibrant characters that propel the New Testament accounting in a fresh and entertaining way. If you enjoyed Witness, you can't help but revel in Disciple. Well done, Ed!
— Bruce Judisch

Product Details
Trade Paperback: 324 Pages
Language: English
Publisher: Cape arago Press
ISBN: 978-0-9825949-2-6

THE FOX'S HONOR by L.D. Alford

A fascinating read for the science-fiction buff happily suffering from a debilitating touch of the romantic notion.

In The Fox's Honor, Mr. Alford transports an unbending code of chivalry and honor to a futuristic world light years displaced in time and distance from the Avalon in which such Arthurian ethics were born.

The romantic will not be disappointed in the love story between Sir Devon Rathenberg, alias "The Fox," and Lady Tamar Falkeep, the woman who has stolen The Fox's heart. Denied any chance of a future due to social station and propriety, Sir Devon and Lady Tamar must conceal their love. But when, in a twisted turn of events, The Lady thwarts Sir Devon's planned death, a new course deciding the fate of the Human Galactic Empire is demanded--a course that will take them and their noble houses into collision with the tyrannical faux Emperor Perod.

Neither will the sci-fi buff be disappointed with Mr. Alford's detailed account of escaping the constraints of physical space via null space transportation, meticulous attention to the demands of orbital dynamics, and descriptions of the astro-/aeronautical nuances of intergalactic spacecraft. Those Star Trek afficiandos owning a copy of Hayne's USS Enterprise: Owner's Workshop Manual will demand a similar work from Mr. Alford. I take that back; they won't need one. Mr. Alford, a test pilot himself, renders treatment only an aeronautical engineer's mother could love to the technical aspects of space travel and the vehicles that conquer it.

The Fox's Honor is Book Two in The Chronicles of the Dragon and The Fox. It's prequel is The End of Honor, and it's followed by A Season of Honor. I didn't need the prequel to enjoy The Fox's Honor. I am, however, driven to purchase the sequel. I suspect you will be, too.
— Bruce Judisch

Product Details:
Trade Paperback: 296 pages
Language: English
Publisher: OakTara
ISBN: 978-1-6029010-7-0

WITNESS by E.G. Lewis

"An Old Story told in a New Way--" goes the tagline on the back cover of E.G. Lewis's Witness. The only thing that description leaves out is "--and told really well." I had the pleasure of reading the manuscript of Witness during its development. I then had the pleasure of reading the final product. The Law of Diminishing Returns suspended itself in this case. The second read was as enjoyable--if not more so--than the first.

Ed Lewis has crafted a wonderfully entertaining, thought-provoking, and deeply informative novel of a young Jewish shepherdess, Rikvah, who witnesses the angelic announcement of Christ's birth. As the only female among the shepherds who go to see "this which has happened, which the Lord has told us about," she becomes the first human being after Mary and Joseph to cuddle the Infant. This would not be the last event Rikvah witnesses in the life of the Christ.

Witness follows Rikvah's life in the years following the Incarnation, and that of Shemuel, a childhood friend and, she hopes, someday her betrothed. A catastrophe at the Temple yanks Shemuel from Rikvah's life, but not from her heart. What follows is a poignant tale of faith, loyalty, and finally redemption in more ways than just one.

A friend once told me, "When I read historical fiction, I want to learn something." If you share that viewpoint, this is the book for you. Witness immerses you in Judean village life in the 1st-century AD where you learn everything from spinning yarn and making cheese to coming of age under the yoke of Roman oppression. But the storyline never disappears behind the education. Mr. Lewis weaves the lore seamlessly into the adventure, blending meticulous research and practiced storytelling into a delightfully satisfying tale that you won't soon forget. Great read, Ed! Thanks.
- Bruce Judisch

Product Details:
Trade Paperback: 318 Pages
Language: English
Publisher: Cape Arago Press
ISBN: 978-0-9825949-0-2

Saturday, July 10, 2010

THE MAILBOX by Marybeth Whalen

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:
The Mailbox

David C. Cook; New edition (June 1, 2010)

Special thanks to Audra Jennings of The B&B Media Group for providing a review copy.

Marybeth Whalen is the general editor of For the Write Reason and The Reason We Speakas well as co-author of the book Learning to Live Financially Free. She serves as a speaker for the Proverbs 31 Ministry Team and directs a fiction book club, She Reads, through this same outreach. Most importantly, Marybeth is the wife of Curt Whalen and mother to their six children. She is passionate about sharing God with all the women God places in her path. She has been visiting the mailbox for years.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition (June 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0781403693
ISBN-13: 978-0781403696


Sunset Beach, NC

Summer 1985

Campbell held back a teasing smile as he led Lindsey across the warm sand toward the mailbox. Leaning her head on Campbell’s shoulder, her steps slowed. She looked up at him, observing the mischievous curling at the corners of his mouth. “There really is no mailbox, is there?” she said, playfully offended. “If you wanted to get me alone on a deserted stretch of beach, all you had to do was ask.” She elbowed him in the side.

A grin spread across his flawless face. “You caught me.” He threw his hands up in the air in surrender.

“I gotta stop for a sec,” Lindsey said and bent at the waist, stretching the backs of her aching legs. She stood up and put her hands on her hips, narrowing her eyes at him. “So, have you actually been to the mailbox? Maybe the other kids at the pier were just pulling your leg.”

Campbell nodded his head. “I promise I’ve been there before. It’ll be worth it. You’ll see.” He pressed his forehead to hers and looked intently into her eyes before continuing down the beach.

“If you say so …” she said, following him. He slipped his arm around her bare tanned shoulder and squeezed it, pulling her closer to him. Lindsey looked ahead of them at the vast expanse of raw

coastline. She could make out a jetty of rocks in the distance that jutted into the ocean like a finish line.

As they walked, she looked down at the pairs of footprints they left in the sand. She knew that soon the tide would wash them away, and she realized that just like those footprints, the time she had left

with Campbell would soon vanish. A refrain ran through her mind: Enjoy the time you have left. She planned to remember every moment of this walk so she could replay it later, when she was back at home, without him. Memories would be her most precious commodity. How else would she feel him near her?

“I don’t know how we’re going to make this work,” she said as they walked. “I mean, how are we going to stay close when we’re so far away from each other?”

He pressed his lips into a line and ran a hand through his hair. “We just will,” he said. He exhaled loudly, a punctuation.

“But how?” she asked, wishing she didn’t sound so desperate.

He smiled. “We’ll write. And we’ll call. I’ll pay for the longdistance bills. My parents already said I could.” He paused. “And we’ll count the days until next summer. Your aunt and uncle already said you could come back and stay for most of the summer. And you know your mom will let you.”

“Yeah, she’ll be glad to get rid of me for sure.” She pushed images of home from her mind: the menthol odor of her mother’s cigarettes, their closet-sized apartment with parchment walls you could hear the neighbors through, her mom’s embarrassing “delicates” dangling from the shower rod in the tiny bathroom they shared. She wished that her aunt and uncle didn’t have to leave the beach house after

the summer was over and that she could just stay with them forever.

The beach house had become her favorite place in the world. At the beach house, she felt like a part of a real family with her aunt and uncle and cousins. This summer had been an escape from the reality of her life at home. And it had been a chance to discover true love. But tomorrow, her aunt and uncle would leave for their home and send her back to her mother.

“I don’t want to leave!” she suddenly yelled into the open air, causing a few startled birds to take flight.

Campbell didn’t flinch when she yelled. She bit her lip and closed her eyes as he pulled her to him and hugged her.

“Shhh,” he said. “I don’t want you to leave either.” He cupped her chin with his hand. “If I could reverse time for you, I would. And we would go back and do this whole summer over.”

She nodded and wished for the hundredth time that she could stand on the beach with Campbell forever, listening to the hypnotic sound of his voice, so much deeper and more mature than the boys at school. She thought about the pictures they had taken earlier that day, a last-ditch effort to have something of him to take with her. But it was a pitiful substitute, a cheap counterfeit for the real thing.

Campbell pointed ahead of them. “Come on,” he said and tugged on her hand. “I think I see it.” He grinned like a little boy. They crested the dune and there, without pomp or circumstance,

just as he had promised, stood an ordinary mailbox with gold letters spelling out “Kindred Spirit.”

“I told you it was here!” he said as they waded through the deep sand. “The mailbox has been here a couple of years,” he said, his tone changing to something close to reverence as he laid his hand on top

of it. “No one knows who started it or why, but word has traveled and now people come all the way out here to leave letters for the Kindred Spirit—the mystery person who reads them. People come from all over the world.”

“So does anybody know who gets the letters?” Lindsey asked. She ran her fingers over the gold, peeling letter decals. The bottom half of the n and e were missing.

“I don’t think so. But that’s part of what draws people here— they come here because this place is private, special.” He looked down at his bare feet, digging his toes into the sand. “So … I wanted to bring you here. So it could be our special place too.” He looked over at her out of the corner of his eye. “I hope you don’t think that’s lame.”

She put her arms around him and looked into his eyes. “Not lame at all,” she said.

As he kissed her, she willed her mind to record it all: the roar of the waves and the cry of the seagulls, the powdery softness of the warm sand under her feet, the briny smell of the ocean mixed with the scent of Campbell’s sun-kissed skin. Later, when she was back at home in Raleigh, North Carolina, she would come right back to this moment. Again and again. Especially when her mother sent her to her room with the paper-thin walls while she entertained her newest boyfriend.

Lindsey opened the mailbox, the hinges creaking as she did. She looked to him, almost for approval. “Look inside,” he invited her.

She saw some loose paper as well as spiral-bound notebooks, the kind she bought at the drugstore for school. The pages were crinkly from the sea air and water. There were pens in the mailbox too, some

with their caps missing.

Campbell pointed. “You should write a letter,” he said. “Take a pen and some paper and just sit down and write what you are feeling.” He shrugged. “It seemed like something you would really get into.”

How well he had come to know her in such a short time. “Okay,” she said. “I love it.” She reached inside and pulled out a purple notebook, flipping it open to read a random page. Someone had written about a wonderful family vacation spent at Sunset and the special time she had spent with her daughter.

She closed the notebook. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea. She couldn’t imagine her own mother ever wanting to spend time with her, much less being so grateful about it. Reading the notebook made her feel worse, not better. She didn’t need reminding about what she didn’t have waiting for her back home.

Campbell moved in closer. “What is it?” he said, his body lining up perfectly with hers as he pulled her close.

She laid the notebook back inside the mailbox. “I just don’t want to go home,” she said. “I wish my uncle didn’t have to return to his stupid job. How can I go back to … her? She doesn’t want me there any more than I want to be there.” This time she didn’t fight the tears that had been threatening all day.

Campbell pulled her down to sit beside him in the sand and said nothing as she cried, rocking her slightly in his arms.

With her head buried in his shoulder, her words came out muffled. “You are so lucky you live here.”

He nodded. “Yeah, I guess I am.” He said nothing for a while.

“But you have to know that this place won’t be the same for me without you in it.”

She looked up at him, her eyes red from crying. “So you’re saying I’ve ruined it for you?”

He laughed, and she recorded the sound of his laugh in her memory too. “Well, if you want to put it that way, then, yes.”

“Well, that just makes me feel worse!” She laid her head on his shoulder and concentrated on the nearness of him, inhaled the sea scent of his skin and the smell of earth that clung to him from working

outside with his dad.

“Everywhere I go from now on I will have the memory of you with me. Of me and you together. The Island Market, the beach, the arcade, the deck on my house, the pier …” He raised his eyebrows as

he remembered the place where he first kissed her. “And now here. It will always remind me of you.”

“And I am going home to a place without a trace of you in it. I don’t know which is worse, constant reminders or no reminders at all.” She laced her narrow fingers through his.

“So are you glad we met?” She sounded pitiful, but she had to hear his answer.

“I would still have wanted to meet you,” he said. “Even though it’s going to break my heart to watch you go. What we have is worth it.” He kissed her, his hands reaching up to stroke her hair. She heard his words echoing in her mind: worth it, worth it, worth it. She knew that they were young, that they had their whole lives ahead of them, at least that’s what her aunt and uncle had told her. But she also knew

that what she had with Campbell was beyond age.

Campbell stood up and pulled her to her feet, attempting to keep kissing her as he did. She giggled as the pull of gravity parted them. He pointed her toward the mailbox. “Now, go write it all down for the Kindred Spirit. Write everything you feel about us and how unfair it is that we have to be apart.” He squinted his eyes at her. “And I promise not to read over your shoulder.”

She poked him. “You can read it if you want. I have no secrets from you.”

He shook his head. “No, no. This is your deal. Your private world—just between you and the Kindred Spirit. And next year,” he said, smiling down at her, “I promise to bring you back here, and you can write about the amazing summer we’re going to have.”

“And what about the summer after that?” she asked, teasing him.

“That summer too.” He kissed her. “And the next.” He kissed her again. “And the next.” He kissed her again, smiling down at her through his kisses. “Get the point?

“This will be our special place,” he said as they stood together in front of the mailbox.

“Always?” she asked.

“Always,” he said.

Summer 1985

Dear Kindred Spirit,

I have no clue who you are, and yet that doesn’t stop me from writing to you anyway. I hope one day I will discover your identity. I wonder if you are nearby even as I put pen to paper. It’s a little weird to think that I could have passed you on the street this summer and not know you would be reading my

deepest thoughts and feelings. Campbell won’t even read this, though I would let him if he asked me.

As I write, Campbell is down at the water’s edge, throwing shells. He is really good at making the shells skip across the water—I guess that’s proof that this place is his home.

Let me ask you, Kindred Spirit: Do you think it’s silly for me to assume that I have found my soul mate at the age of fifteen? My mom would laugh. She would tell me that the likelihood of anyone finding a soul mate—ever—is zero. She would tell me that I need to not go around giving my heart away like a hopeless romantic. She laughs when I read romance novels or see sappy movies that make me cry. She says that I will learn the truth about love someday.

But, honestly, I feel like I did learn the truth about love this summer. It’s like what they say: It can happen when you least expect it, and it can knock you flat on your back with its power. I didn’t come here expecting to fall in love. The truth is I didn’t want to come here at all. I came here feeling pushed aside and unwanted. I can still remember when my mom said that she had arranged for my aunt and uncle to bring me here, smiling at me like she was doing me some kind of favor when we both knew she just wanted me out of the picture so she could live her life without me cramping her style.

I tried to tell her that I didn’t want to come—who would want to spend their summer with bratty cousins? I was so mad, I didn’t speak to my mom for days. I begged, plotted, and even got my best friend Holly’s parents to say I could stay with them instead. But in the end, as always, my mother ruled, and I got packed off for a summer at the beach. On the car ride down, I sat squished in the backseat beside Bobby and Stephanie. Bobby elbowed me and stuck his tongue out at me the whole way to the beach. When his parents weren’t looking, of course. I stared out the window and pretended to be anywhere but in that car.

But now, I can’t believe how wonderful this summer has turned out. I made some new friends. I read a lot of books and even got to where I could tolerate my little cousins. They became like the younger siblings I never had. Most of all, I met Campbell.

I know what Holly will say. She will say that it was God’s plan. I am working on believing that there is a God and that he has a plan for my life like Holly says. But most of the time it feels like God is not aware I exist. If he was aware of me, you’d think he’d have given me a mom who actually cared about me.

Ugh—I can’t believe I have to leave tomorrow. Now that I have found Campbell, I don’t know what I will do without him. We have promised to write a lot of letters. And we have promised not to date other people.

A word about him asking me not to date other people: This was totally funny to me. Two nights ago we were walking on the beach and he stopped me, pulling me to him and looking at me really seriously. “Please,” he said, “I would really like it if you wouldn’t see other people. Is that crazy for me to ask that of you when we are going to be so far apart?”

I was like, “Are you kidding? No one asks me out. No one at my school even looks at me twice!” At school I am known for being quiet and studious—a brain, not a girl to call for a good time. Holly says that men will discover my beauty later in life. But until this summer I didn’t believe her. I couldn’t admit that no one notices me at school because, obviously, he believes I am sought after. And I knew enough to let him believe it. So I very coyly answered back, “Only if you promise me the same thing.”

And he smiled in that lazy way of his and said, “How could I even look at another girl when I’ve got the best one in the world?”

And so now you see why I just can’t bear the thought of leaving him. But the clock is ticking. When I get home, I swear I will cry myself to sleep every night and write letters to Campbell every day. The only thing I have to look forward to is hanging out with Holly again. Thank goodness for Holly, the one constant in my life. In math class we learned that a constant is something that has one value all the time and it never changes.

That’s what Holly is for me: my best friend, no matter what.

I wonder if Campbell will be a constant in my life. I guess it’s too soon to tell, but I do hope so. I’m already counting down the days until I can come back and be with Campbell. Because this summer—I don’t care how lame it sounds—I found my purpose. And that purpose is loving Campbell with all my

heart. Always.

Until next summer,


©2010 Cook Communications Ministries. The Mailbox by Marybeth Whalen. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.

E. G. Lewis' Review:

The thing that attracted me to The Mailbox was…well, the mailbox. The idea of letters being deposited in a lonely, rusty mailbox to be read by a mysterious Kindred Spirit no one knew intrigued me. I wanted to learn more. Who was this Kindred Spirit? Would we ever find out? How could a rusty mailbox influence people and events?

Knowing The Mailbox was Marybeth Whalen’s debut novel, I found myself unconsciously evaluating her skill as I read…and she earned high marks. Her well-crafted prose gently moves the reader forward letting the story unfold at the steady, unhurried pace of a summer day at the beach. The characters are well-developed and likeable, the dialog is natural, the plot believable. The book transitions between time past and present and parallel story lines effortlessly. I found this story of love lost and love found thoroughly enjoyable. And, just when I thought I had it all figured out, she surprised me by introducing an unexpected twist on the way to a thoroughly satisfying conclusion.  Well done!
- E G Lewis