Macy and her 5 year old daughter, Emma have been on their own with help from Macy's Mom, Brenda and brother, Max since Emma was just an infant. Macy has been haunted by pictures a boy about her age drew back and forth to each other during every beach vacation her family took from when she was Emma's age until her father died at age 16. Her family took one more vacation that next year and at that time Macy wrote a note telling the young artist she would not meet him as he had requested. The next 10 years she has spent regretting that she did not have the courage. Brenda has decided it is time to go back and take a family vacation. Right after the family arrive Macy walks out on the beach and prays that God will lead her to the artist of her childhood. Three men walk into her life. All seem to be possibilities. All seem to be good men and Emma likes the 3 also. What will Macy do?
I liked this story. Macy learns that the God of her childhood is also the God of her adulthood. She learns to place trust in The Artist who has designed what the other artists try to copy. She learns that she has more strength than she thought to choose a man and father for her child more wisely this time around. She learns that all 3 men have great characteristics and to enjoy them all in a nonromantic way before asking them what she most wants to know but is afraid to ask. Are you the artist?
I received this book from Zondervan for this review.
At our little cabin in the northwoods we have a cabin journal in which we capture the special moments of each trip. We encourage others who visit the cabin to write in the journal, too, even the little ones. Sometimes they draw pictures. Throughout the entries there is a kind of back and forth communication, even a little campfire cooking rivalry. If someone else has been at the cabin since we were there last, both my husband and I will check the cabin journal right away after we unpack to read the latest news (which is very silly because we've usually talked to those people directly and already know the important stuff).
In The Guest Book by Marybeth Whalen, young Macy had that same eager anticipation to check the guest book of the beach cottage she and her family rented for their annual vacation. It all started the summer she was five and she, encouraged by her father, drew a picture of some shells in the guest book. The next summer she found another picture had been added by a boy who also left behind a photograph, but not his name. Over the next ten summers drawings went back and forth and a secret friendship was forged. Then when a teenager, Macy received a note that she should go to a particular pier at a certain time and they would finally meet. Instead Macy convinced her mother to leave the beach house early and that they should not return next summer.
Why didn't Macy meet her secret friend? How can an innocent childhood game still affect the now 26 year old woman? The answers to those questions are the heart of Whalen's contemporary novel. For now I will say that Macy, her mother, and her older brother all are emotionally stalled because of the father's death which happened that year when she was 15. Life has gone on, Macy has become a single mother, brother Max has "settled" into a life of partying and destructive behavior, and mom has built a shrine of memories to insulate her. A crack of change appears when mom suggests that once again the whole family travel to the same beach house for two weeks.
Then the first night at the beach, Macy, who has simply buried God with her father, prays a single prayer - that God will finally reveal who the childhood artist is. Seemingly like miracles, three possibilities appear, each interested in the adult Macy, and she in him. But a larger lesson comes with the possibility that none of them is the childhood friend -- the lesson that we all have an Artist to our lives. Do we recognize the strokes of His brush, the shape of His clay? Are we willing to accept his creation within us?
With the side stories of brother Max and mom, this is a book that offers something to more than just young romance readers (although that is still the target audience). This book was published in July and I was given an e-copy for review purposes. All opinions are my own. Secular publishers always seem to have a list of "beach reads" for the summer months. For Christian fiction readers, this title would be a good vacation read. Since it is now Labor Day weekend, I can only hope that maybe you have some late, late summer vacation time for some light, but meaningful reading. If not, perhaps you'll want to read this in the depths of January/February when you can only dream of sand beaches.
Budding artist, Macy Dillion drew her first picture in the guesthouse at a vacation beach house when she was five. Over the years, a young boy drew pictures back to her, and they developed a line of communication that followed them through the years. Then Macy's father died, she got pregnant, and the father of her child left her. Now five years later, her child's father returns, but her mother plans another vacation to Sunset Beach. Macy is determined to find the artist from the guestbook to see if he still feels the connection from the past.
I wasn't prepared to like this book, since I perceived it to be a basic romance novel, but I did. The story weaves around Macy, her mother, and her brother, who have all reached turning points in their lives. The characters captured me from the beginning and pulled me in as I watched this hurting family turn toward joy. This is a great read to curl up and enjoy.
Looking for a great summer read? Look no further than Marybeth Whalen's latest novel, The Guest Book. Set at one of my favorite places--a North Carolina beach--reading The Guest Book almost makes my toes feel like they're sunk in the sand. I've signed lots of guest books in bed and breakfast inns, but I've never drawn pictures, as Macy Dillon has. She drew her first guest book picture when she was just five, and she was delighted when her family returned to the inn the following year to discover that a little boy had drawn her a picture in reply. This pattern continued for over ten years, until Macy's family decided they couldn't bear to return because of the painful memories of her recently deceased father that the beach brought.
Fast forward another ten years, and Macy is once more returning to Sunset Beach with her family, including her own five-year-old daughter. Macy hopes to finally discover the identity of the boy who once captured her heart with his drawings, but when three possibilities present themselves, the search becomes harder instead of easier.
The ending actually surprised me! I stayed up late two nights in a row to finish the book; it was a page turner for sure.
*Disclaimer: Zondervan gave me a free copy of this book in exchange for a review, but the opinions expressed are my own.
Macy Dillon works in a local supermarket and satisfies her artistic bent by painting the store windows, because a single mother can't afford art school. She cares for her daughter, Emma, rescues and bails out her part-boy brother, Max, and spends time with her mother, who is still mourning the loss of her husband after ten years. But now her mother thinks it is time to move on, and proposes the family spend two weeks in their old vacation haunt of Sunset Beach, at Time in a Bottle, the house they always leased.
Macy goes to the beach house hoping that she will be able to reconnect with the artist who drew her pictures in the guest book at the house they always rented. She is surprised to be courted by three men, all of whom could be her mystery artist: Nate, the pastor; Wyatt, the boy next door; and Dockery, who is volunteering at the art camp Emma is attending. But, more importantly, she begins to rediscover the faith in God she lost after her father died.
I really enjoyed The Guest Book. I thought it was going to be general Christian fiction, but it actually turned into a very nice romance with lots of chemistry, and an interesting and original plot. However, I haven't read The Mailbox (also by Marybeth Whalan), and another reviewer makes the point that the two are very similar, except that a mailbox substitutes for a guest book. So maybe this not quite so original as I thought...
However, the language was beautiful, and I really liked the way the author wove Christianity into the plot and how Macy's search for the artist worked on different levels. I particularly liked the way we were drawn into the story, with the author giving us tiny clues about what has happened and perhaps even what is going to happen.
Thanks to Zondervan and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.