When I was in college, I loved hearing Jim Croce sing. I had one of his albums and played it over and over and over and over again (ad nauseum). One song made its way into my memory "Time in a Bottle" and that song is key to The Guest Book by Mary Beth Whalen. Macy is a single-mom with a five year old daughter, Emma. She is also a daughter to Brenda and a sister to Max. She grew up going to the beach every year for vacation and spending it in a cabin named "Time in a Bottle." Her father encouraged her to draw a picture in the guest book every year when they visited the cabin. After the first time, she came back to find a picture drawn in response to hers. It became something of a correspondence between Macy and some anonymous boy. Ten years after her last visit to the cabin, Brenda, Max, Macy, and Emma return to the cabin to put some family ghosts to sleep and to enjoy one more vacation. Macy begins a journey to find the anonymous respondent to her drawings in the guest book. The journey takes the whole vacation to find her mysterious correspondent, but along the way, Macy makes some life-changing discoveries about herself.
I've never read anything by Mary Beth before, but I really enjoyed this story. She uses flash-backs creatively without disturbing the flow of the story. The journey of self-discovery as well as God-discovery Macy embarked on is real, something similar to one of my own.
I give this book a real five stars, with a bottle full of time.