Last night I finished reading The Mailbox by Marybeth Whalen.
First, let me say this: I've been in a reading slump.
I can't even remember the last book I finished. So when I had some extra time this weekend, I decided to find a book I knew would be a quick read regardless of the content. Usually these look like an indie book. Probably YA. When I opened my kindle app, though, The Mailbox was the first to show so I clicked.
Also worth noting: I think I purchased the book as a Kindle Daily Deal. Currently the book sits at $8.99 for the Kindle version and I can't imagine paying that much for a book I know I will love, let alone one I have never heard of and think I may enjoy.
According to the premise, it had everything that would warrant a clearance purchase from me: set off the North Carolina coast, an intriguing plot, seems to be an easy read.
Two of those were correct. This is set in Sunset Beach, right on the South Carolina / North Carolina border. It was also an easy read in that I could skim pages and not really miss anything.
The plot fell flat for me.
Boy meets girl when they're teenagers. They spend summers together on the beach, promising each other the world. Girl goes back to city in the fall, and they pick up their romance when she returns the next year.
But then one year, boy gets another girl pregnant (shocker).
He marries new girl, out of confusion and desperation, and doesn't tell his long-distance-love until months later.
Years go by and both experience dissolution of their current relationships, and when girl escapes to the beach after her divorce, she runs into boy and they live happily ever after.
In between all of this is a mailbox where Lindsay, the girl, writes her thoughts like she would a journal (why doesn't homegirl have a journal?). She does this every year. Just one letter. There is a kindred spirit who keeps the letters, and when she finds out who this person is, she feels betrayed — as she should.
I struggled with this book. A lot. I wasn't prepared for the platitudes thrown throughout the pages, and I felt the characterization was weak. Campbell's ex feels stereotypically harsh and calculating. Lindsay's relationship with her best friend is one dimensional, only speaking of the men in her life and nothing more. When she escapes to the island, her and Campbell go on a date and when he leans in to kiss her, she explicitly states she's not ready to be physical since she just finalized her divorce.
He still kisses her, which makes her hesitation magically disappear.
And, at one point, when the person who has been LIndsay's "kindred spirit" apologizes for taking her letters and reading them, part of the apology includes, "but, because I did this, you've been my kindred spirit this whole time."
When she asks for clarification, she gets "these letters are why I returned to God."
What I enjoyed: it being on the North Carolina coast. That's really it. The scenery felt similar to our time in Kure Beach and that made me want to keep reading to hear more about it, but turning the page kept me disappointed until the end. The only reason I kept reading was because I was so desperate to finish a book I pushed through, hoping it would get better.
Rating: 1 out of 5 stars