the mailbox by marybeth whalen

I saw Katie Holmes in the Charlotte airport once. This was pre-Tom, when she was still with Dawson and Pacey. She was in line in front of me at Starbucks and ordered a vanilla latte, same as me. Even before I knew who she was, she stood out among the other customers. She was stylish with a long coat and cute shoes. And she was very, very tall so she stood out that way too. I hate to admit it, but I watched her hands as she spoke to the woman next to her, and I considered how very much they reminded me of my own.

After all, we are both people. Before blogs and twitter, movie stars and TV people and book writers and news anchors seemed so untouchable. But now, you can read a writer’s book, follow them on Twitter, and comment on their blog. Just like that, you realize there is a human person behind all that stuff. And you can connect.

That is one reason why I love to talk about books written by people I know in real life. Because they are friends, they are mothers, they are wives and sisters and people. That is why I am excited to introduce you to Marybeth Whalen.

You may know her from her blog, Cheaper by the Half Dozen (yes, she has six kids), or from the Proverbs 31 Ministries team. That is how I know her. Last year at She Speaks, she was the lucky P31 team member assigned to introduce me and my sister, so she had to sit through our entire session. Since then, her debut novel The Mailbox was released, and I read it. Of course.

In it, Linsday Adams makes her first trip to the Kindred Spirit mailbox when she is only fifteen. Over the next twenty years, she continues to come back to Sunset Beach and write to the Kindred Spirit letters about dreams come true and dreams yet to be lived. Between the husband who leaves her and the first love who reappears in her life, Lindsay has choices to make that require both risk and faith.

The Mailbox has all the elements of a great read: the familiar flutter of young love, the sharp pain of betrayal, the longing that comes after heartbreak, and the beauty found in redemption. One thing I appreciate about this book is that Marybeth did not write Christian characters with fluffy flaws. These people seem real to me, with authentic insecurities and believable emotion.

Perhaps that is why, when I saw Marybeth again this year at She Speaks, I had to stop myself from calling her Lindsay and asking her how life was going on Sunset Beach. If I would have written about it earlier in the summer, I would tell you to be sure to pack this book with you in your beach bag. But since summer is basically over, I will recommend it as a great just-before-bed read. It is an easy book to get right into. I took it with me on a flight I had to take alone this summer and nearly finished it by the time we landed. I thank Marybeth for getting this anxious flier through some rough turbulance. I hardly noticed it.

When I chatted with Marybeth about how very much I admire fiction writers, she told me that a friend told her to write the book she would want to read. And so she did.

Would you like to read it, too? Simply leave a comment at the bottom of this post by Wednesday to enter to win a copy of The Mailbox. Otherwise, you can go here to buy a copy or to read more about the book.

The winner of my extra copy of Mary DeMuth’s book Thin Places is Star Forbis. Congrats! Check your inbox.


  1. says

    I’ve been wanting to read this book. Just haven’t gotten up the cash to buy it. I was at She Speaks this year and sat in on a session with Marybeth. I was too shy to introduce myself to her even though I’ve been following her blog for a year.

  2. says

    I always appreciate it when you share books here. I’m constantly on the look out for things to add to my reading list, and I know I can trust your recommendations. Thanks, Emily!

  3. says

    I am always up for a good book, especially one that draws me closer to God.
    I always look forward to Tuesdays on your blog, so that I can post a link to mine and read what other ladies have been up to in the past week. It’s a great way to get connected and to stretch myself as an author.

  4. Amy says

    Trust. Something we all could see lived out loud, even through fiction that sometimes so closely resembles real life! I’d enjoy the opportunity to sink into a story, if I’m selected. Thanks!

  5. Martha Vaughan says

    I’d love to read this book. I’ve been to The Mailbox at Sunset Beach … absolutely love that area. How neat to read a fiction book that will seem like non-fiction. Please, pick me.

  6. Mimi says

    Always looking for great “just-before-bed” books. Sleep’s an elusive thing for me, and I’ve found that my choice of evening reading material helps out quite a bit. Looking forward to reading The Mailbox. Thanks for sharing!

  7. says

    Oh, I want to write fiction so badly. I’m just not ready to make the time for it quite yet. I’m hoping this fall, winter maybe, the grounding energy of the season change will help me hunker down to write.

    I’m always on the lookout for a new novel. Thanks for the recommendation.

  8. says

    Sounds like JUST the type of book I’ve been craving to sit down for a good read! Thank you for introducing us to us – I hope to read the book soon!

  9. says

    Oh Emily,
    I’ve heard nothing but praises about Marybeth’s book. I intended to pick it up at She Speaks, but the crazy pace and my commitment to spending my time with God and people just didn’t allow it. Thanks for the opportunity to win a fantastic read!
    Hope you are well and quite recovered from that amazing weekend. :)

  10. says

    I trust your recommendation, Em, and I haven’t read any good (ie, believable cahracters) Christian fiction in a while. I’d love to win this. If I do, I’m going to save it for a flight from TN to NV that I’m taking in early November. Perfect little “getaway.”

  11. says

    i love this: “Marybeth did not write Christian characters with fluffy flaws. These people seem real to me, with authentic insecurities and believable emotion.” you get a lot of the fluff and bubblegum in other Christian fiction – so glad to know Marybeth is keeping it real!

  12. Sissy says

    I would certainly love a copy, cause I am in love with fiction, as you know.

    And I certainly think you did a lot more work with your book than mine. There was way more work and research in what you did than me just using my imagination. I can’t wait to read your un-titled book. LOL.

  13. Pam Keener says

    The video was so very beautiful. I would love to win this book and if I don’t win I will certainly add it to my TBB list.
    Thanks for the introduction of a new to me author.
    Love & Hugs,

  14. says

    Of course I’d love to read it! I admire fiction writers too. My imagination seems to have lost its luster since childhood, but oh how I admire those who can spin a tale.

  15. Lisa says

    Sounds like just the right book for the “season” I’m in. Would love to spend some time in it just before bed! Thanks!

  16. says

    This sounds like a wonderful book! and I LUUUUUUUUUUUUVVVVVVVVVVEEEEEEEEEEE wonderful books – but more importantly it sounds like one I would recommend my 19 year old daughter read. – She loves to read but the options are sometimes limited for young women. :)
    Happy Tuesday!

  17. Traci says

    Love your book recommendations. I have finally been able to read a good fiction book over the past couple of weeks. Even if I don’t win this book, maybe I can borrow yours and read it. I promise to return it. :)
    Thanks for sharing your life!
    PS I LOVED the post about Finn….

  18. Jamie B says

    I LOVE to read! My hubby groans each time I bring a new novel home b/c he knows everything will be put on hold until I finish it:) However….I am due to have a baby anytime so I figure I will have plenty of built-in reading time with all the snuggling I get to do while nursing!

  19. Ina says

    I’ll be going on a beach vacation the end of September and would love to have a good book in my beach bag! Really enjoy your Tuesdays Unwrapped. Thanks!

  20. Logan says

    I have been following Mary Beth’s blog for a while and would love to have a chance to read her book. You ladies are so brave to tackle the writing and speaking and I’m really enjoying getting to know you all through your blogs and hopefully your books too!
    Best wishes to you both!

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