I picked up The Mailbox, by Audrey Shafer, at the used bookstore—based entirely on the cover art. It looked interesting, and I had store credit, so it wasn’t really a gamble.
The Mailbox is probably a middle-grade read; about junior high level, or maybe late elementary school. It’s a story about a boy who’s been in the foster system for years, is finally adopted by a loving (albeit grumpy) old uncle, who suddenly falls down dead one day at home. When twelve-year-old Gabe finds his uncle’s body, he is obviously grief-stricken—but he also decides not to tell anyone, because he doesn’t want to go back into foster care.
Then Gabe starts getting mysterious notes in the mailbox, notes addressed specifically to him. Notes that give him clues about his Uncle Vernon’s life. Notes telling him how to care for the big black dog who just showed up in his house. And he decides not to tell anyone about the notes, either.
If I have any complaints about The Mailbox, they’re about the dialog. Every now and then, someone says something out loud, and I just think, “Really? Who would say that?” The conversations are sometimes a little forced or awkwardly worded. Having said that, it’s still a great book.This book explores death, grief, war, PTSD, and does all of in an age-appropriate manner, with a brilliant plot line that keeps you interested. I would highly recommend it. ♦