When Macy Dillon was five years old her father encouraged her to draw a picture in the guestbook of a Carolina beach house. The next year, Macy returned to discover a drawing by an unidentified little boy on the facing page. Over the next eleven years the children continue to exchange drawings … until tragedy ends visits to the beach house altogether. During her final trip to Sunset, Macy asks her anonymous friend to draw her one last picture and tells him where to hide the guest book in hopes that one day she will return to find it—and him. Twenty-five years after that first picture, Macy is back at Sunset Beach—this time toting a broken family and a hurting heart. One night, alone by the ocean, Macy asks God to help her find the boy she never forgot, the one whose beautiful pictures touched something deep inside of her. Will she ever find him? And if she does, will the guestbook unite them or merely be the relic of a lost childhood?
Marybeth Whalen’s latest contemporary tale is an intriguing blend of family dynamics, grief management, healing and the discovery of joy. I enjoyed the interactions between Macy, her mother, and brother, as each of them wrestled with different demons following the death of Macy’s father. Macy’s devotion to her daughter Emma leads her to reconsider a damaged relationship with Emma’s father and her struggle epitomises what I imagine many women go through in similar circumstances. Marybeth keeps readers guessing to the very last pages regarding the identity of the boy who has shared so deeply with Macy, through their drawings in the guest book and the outcome actually surprised me! I’m still pondering whether I would have appreciated a different outcome more but that said, the authenticity of the characters’ motivations, actions and emotions were exceptionally handled. The Guest Book is another example of Marybeth’s unique talent as a writer.
With thanks to Zondervan for my review copy via NetGalley