THE MAILBOX by Audrey Shafer


Age Range: 10 - 14
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After the Vietnam-veteran uncle he lives with dies, anonymous messages appear in Gabe’s mailbox that scare but intrigue the orphaned 12-year-old boy. Then the body disappears. Gabe keeps silent out of fear of being returned to foster care. Flashbacks to life with Uncle Vernon; growing awareness of his uncle’s combat experiences; a beloved dog; assurances from the correspondent; and the eventual discovery of the body help Gabe find courage, develop greater self-understanding and finally result in his finding happiness and family. Shafer’s narrative is heartfelt, earnest and moving at times and conveys the power of memory to help heal wounds. It also strains credulity—Gabe’s secretly fending for himself as long as he does, for example—and some plot details seem too convenient. Moreover, the central question is never answered: How did the secret writer—who turns out to be the corpse robber—know Vernon died? Still, Gabe’s likable and the mystery is intriguing and will keep kids guessing. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 10th, 2006
ISBN: 0-385-73344-5
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Delacorte
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 2006


ChildrenGRAVE IMAGES by Jenny Goebel
by Jenny Goebel