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Reviewed by Ankita Shukla for Readers' Favorite
Every family has some skeletons that must remain buried from the world; however, there are a few secrets that are hidden even from family members -- and rightly so. Life in a Box by JoDee Neathery revolves around two families, the Browns and the Smiths, and a secret that remained hidden until VJ decided to reveal it. Andee and Scott are happily married. Andee has been facing a few health issues and is supposed to stay away from stress, but when she receives a box from her mother, Victoria Jeanne Smith (aka VJ), that consists of letters, journals, etc., her life takes an interesting turn. VJ urges Andee to write a non-fiction book about their lives. Andee is a book reviewer and a literature lover, but not an author; therefore, this project not only challenges and scares her, but also promises to bring a lot of stress into her life. During the course of writing this story, Andee will realize that there is a devastating secret in her mother's life that she might not be able to handle.
The author has a very smart way of writing her book. Right from the beginning, she built up the suspense that there was a shocking secret that would shake the core of the two families, and this suspense remained until the very end. Without even revealing anything incredible until the end, the author's meticulous writing managed to hold my attention. The lives and cultures of two families, their different parenting tactics, the ladies' longing to be something more than what society expected them to be are just a few of those elements that maintained the charisma of the plot. When you are reading this book, you are not just reading a plot progressing towards the secret that the story promised in the beginning; rather you are living with the fears, ambitions, ordeals, happiness, victories, and romances of two families. Whether it be the progressive thinking of VJ or the introverted nature of her sister, Muriel, who invented an imaginary friend, there was something challenging me in the book. Although the secret enticed me to select this book for review, it wasn't what kept me hooked to the plot; rather, it was the wide range of emotions, realistic problems, and charismatic characters that forced me to keep my reading glasses on until reaching the last page. I would recommend Life in a Box by JoDee Neathery to readers who like to live life with the characters of the book and not just read about them.