Tandi Jo had a hard past and she had moved herself and her two kids to the Outer Banks in the hopes of surviving. Tandi Jo has a nasty ex-husband that kept her addicted to pain pills so that a few years of her life are fairly fuzzy. She runs away with no money and no hope and finds a cottage on the grounds of Iola Poole’s gigantic house. Tandi’s first weeks there are rough and as she goes to talk to Iola about her back rent, she finds her lying peacefully on a bed in a back bedroom upstairs, dead. Tandi never expected to find healing, peace, and friendship in glass prayer boxes in the house of Iola Poole. Can she let go of her past and embrace this town or will her past catch up to her regardless?
On the face, this book looks like a simple book about a single mom’s journey to heal her life. Deep down this book is a spiritual land mind of thoughts and values. Tandi Jo is a complex character with a hard past who has a draw to these special islands. It is here that she can begin to heal from all that hurt and neglect and she can help her family to heal from all that as well.
I like how the author “showed Tandi the way” so to say. I loved the prayer boxes and the meaning that was bestowed upon them. It was such an interesting way to create a character from boxes. Even though Iola wasn’t walking or talking throughout the book, she was as much a character in the book as Tandi was.
In the beginning of the book I was frustrated with the development of Tandi. She seemed too guarded and was unwilling to let anyone help her. She didn’t think about what might be best in the long run, she just wanted to be sure her secrets were guarded so that people didn’t talk. I realized as the book progressed that that flighty personality was perfect for the situation that Tandi was in. It added to what became of Tandi and created this strong and balanced character that I continued to think about after the book was done.
The supporting characters were great also. I loved Paul and his quirky outfits, Sandy and her rough but loving personality. Although the premise of these two relationships with Tandi was fairly predictable, I believe that the characters are what transform a good story into a great one. The help that these two characters gave to Tandi was warming and heartfelt. It added a frustrating layer to the story as well. When Tandi doesn’t appreciate these characters, when she guards herself and her family and keeps making the same bad decisions, the reader gets frustrated and at the same time gets more vested in the story. I love the way that Wingate incorporates these characters and how she uses them to aid in Tandi’s journey.
The final thing that put this novel over the top for me was the intertwining stories. The journey of Iola Poole, being so different from Tandi’s, yet it was the exact same as Tandi’s. I loved this element and LOVED how it ended. I think that Wingate did such an eloquent job of matching these two people up as if it were destined from God. I am not a Christian and no not attend church regularly, yet this novel still spoke to me. It was inspiring and at times inspired a faith in me as well, not necessarily in God himself, but in the fact that everything happens for a reason.
I would recommend this novel to anyone interested in lifes journey. With this novel you don’t only get to travel through Tandi’s life, you get to travel through Iola’s as well which is what makes this novel so special. What do you think about the novel? Did you enjoy the message of faith and did it speak to you even if you are not a person of faith? Did it inspire you as it did me?