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The Mailbox

3.83  ·  Rating Details ·  1,638 Ratings  ·  285 Reviews
Vernon Culligan had been dead to the town of Draydon, Virginia, so long that when the crusty Vietnam vet finally died, only one person noticed. Twelve-year-old Gabe grew up in the foster care system until a social worker located his Uncle Vernon two years before. When he comes home to discover that his uncle has died of a heart attack, he's terrifed of going back into the ...more
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published December 18th 2008 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers (first published October 10th 2006)
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Mar 30, 2014 Cindy rated it really liked it
This book was on my Goodreads recommendations list; thanks for that feature! The book is intended for the upper elementary grades, but I was so moved by the story and wondered how a young person could understand the depth of Gabe's pain. But then I realized it would be a perfect book for the child of a veteran. Gabe's Uncle Vernon and his friend Smitty have PTSD, but it's from the Viet Nam war, maybe giving a little breathing room for a parent and child.

Have a tissue handy!
Nov 23, 2012 Bethany rated it it was amazing
Love it. have read it three times. Not sure who the intended audience is though (is this really a kid's book?). But I love it.
Nadia Flores
Sep 28, 2015 Nadia Flores rated it really liked it
Have you ever thought about living without your parents? Imagine what life would be like if you no one there to take care of you, what would you do? If you only had your teachers and your best friend. This is Gabe's story, it might not be a true story but the author sure does make it seem like one. This a realistic fiction book.

The setting of this book is mainly in a house where everything takes place in present day. Gabe is the main character he used to live in foster care f
I finished this book in less than 2 hours? It's a really quick read. Unfortunately, I also chose to read in a public coffee shop which was a huge mistake as I cried through about two-thirds of it. I don't think it was just me being sentimental, at least not entirely - there were some genuinely moving moments between Gabe and Smitty and, even more emotional, Gabe and his memories of Uncle Vernon. Shafer does a fantastic job at winding the two (three if you count Vernon and Smitty) relationships t ...more
Dec 02, 2008 Ryan rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fathers of kids moving into their teens, young men 8-10 (first time) 13-15 (the second)
This was an unexpected find.

Were it not for Landen's book club, I'd never have picked it up, and were it not for a Thanksgiving away I'd never have read it.

The story is about Gabe, a ward of the state, who goes to live with his Uncle Vernon, a distinguished veteran, who is about as crusty as they get, and doesn't like to toot his own horn. One day Gabe returns home to find Uncle Vernon dead, and that's were I was hooked.

The young man does his best to keep that from those around him, working to e
Feb 08, 2010 Christina rated it really liked it
A heart-breaking story of Gabe, a boy who finds a home with his "crusty" Uncle Vernon, a Vietnam vet, after years of being shuttled around from one foster home to another. Gabe arrives home one day to find his uncle dead on the floor. Confused by this turn of events and not ready to say "good-bye," he crawls under a blanket and spends the night with his uncle's body. When he arrives home from school the next day, he finds a mysterious note in his mailbox and his uncle's body gone. Despite this u ...more
When young Gable (Gabe) finally finds a home with his Uncle Vernon, he settles into a not-so-ordinary routine for daily life. But that's what comes from living with a hardened Vietnam veteran. Both uncle and nephew quickly get used to each other, but peace is shattered when Vernon suddenly dies. Fearful that things will change for the worse (i.e. foster homes again), and consumed with grief for the uncle he barely had a chance to know, Gabe tells no one about his uncle's death.

But someone knows;
Jul 03, 2008 Lisa rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 21, 2009 Cindy rated it it was amazing
This is a book for young and teenage readers, but I was completely moved by this book. It is amazing and I found myself teary-eyed more than once. The main character is great, but it's amazing how important the uncle is to the book even thought he is dead a the very beginning. Thumbs up!
Nov 25, 2014 Riley rated it it was amazing
I honestly loved "The Mailbox", I gave it 5 Stars. When it comes to this book, it is a very heartfelt book but also interesting and a fast read(for a person who likes to read of course). I would 100% recommend this book
. Twelve-year-old Gabe grew up in the foster care system until a social worker located his Uncle Vernon two years before. Uncle Vernon is a crusty old Viet Nam Veteran that no one in town really thinks much about. When Gabe comes home to discover that his uncle has died of a heart attack, he's terrifed of going back into foster care so pretends everything is normal and continues on as usual. Except someone does know. They remove his Uncle's body, gives him a dog as a companion, and leaves notes ...more
Kayla Smith
Jun 17, 2017 Kayla Smith rated it it was amazing
Have some tissues handy when reading this book. Be prepared, as I do not read children's books often, I expected this one to be cheesy and unappealing. However, I am 16 years old and I think everybody else would agree with me if I said that this is not just a book for children- it is one for teens and adults too. Do not bypass this book. Discovering this was one of the greatest accidents I have made.
Jun 07, 2017 Lea rated it really liked it
Interesting story that revolves around a mystery man who takes care of a boy from afar after the boy's guardian uncle dies. Who is this man? What is his connection to Gabe's uncle? How long can Gabe keep up his lies and stay out of the foster care system? While finding the answers to some of these questions, Gabe finds out the truth about his uncle's past, and he learns that he is not as alone as he thinks he is. A thought-provoking story that references the Vietnam War.
Morgan Schultz
Jun 29, 2017 Morgan Schultz rated it it was ok
I read this in the last few weeks of 6th grade. The description on the back of the book really interested me, however as i read the chapters one by one, it still had me wondering when the action was going to happen. In the second to last chapter ther was a slight plot twist, but that was really it. So, if you like action, I wouldn't recommend.
Jul 05, 2017 Lucas rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
The book really got to me twice at the end, and it is rare for a book to move me like this one did.

I didn't give it five stars only because the first 100 pages or so seemed to drag on that I stopped and started several times.

Uncle Vernon was more of a character after he died than before and Gabe came into his own at the end.
Kathy Lautenschlager
Dec 26, 2016 Kathy Lautenschlager rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
A wonderfully written story! It caught my heart and I had to finish in one day. It's a young adult book and it's short, only 178 pages. I wish there was a sequel so I could find out how Gabe turn's out.
Jun 24, 2017 Melody rated it it was amazing
Thoroughly enjoyable book. Interesting characters. I would recommend this book to young readers (upper elementary to early high school), particularly boys. I loved it!
Oct 29, 2016 Vicki rated it it was amazing
The Mailbox was a lovely story about a boy's fierce desire to stay in the home he finally has found. The dog in this story is pivotal. The author does a wonderful job of setting the dog/child relationship.
This brought me back to my childhood and made me cry too.
Anna Achiaa
Mar 02, 2017 Anna Achiaa rated it really liked it
I liked this book because it was a calm read. I love Gabe and his matured mind and how he was able to handle and endure through the situations he went through. This is one of those books that make you feel warm inside after reading.
Becky Mccammon
Aug 27, 2013 Becky Mccammon rated it really liked it
*If you were reading my blog this summer, you've seen this. Sorry! Just trying to build up the books read folder:).

It's rare that a book moves me to tears. Perhaps that's about my book choices or a safe emotional space I like to live in when I read, but this book triggered some pain or sadness in me (that all of us know) and it very simply, but truly, brought tears to my eyes.

"The Mailbox" begins with a death. Gabe is a 6th grade student who has known a really difficult life, in and out of foste
Dec 26, 2010 Chris rated it liked it
Marsha Harper (The Lorgnette-Heart of Texas Reviews (Vol. 19, No. 4))
Shafer, a first-time novelist, has written one of the most touching stories around of love, loss, and making connections. Gabe, a twelve-year-old boy who has grown up in a series of foster homes, comes home from his first day of sixth grade to find his uncle, his only living relative, dead on the floor of their secluded house. Gabe has lived with him only two and a half years, but he loves the irascible, reclusive Viet Nam vet
Mar 13, 2014 Lucy rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 03, 2010 Jill rated it did not like it
You know, I wanted to give this book 2 stars. But I truly have nothing good to say about it.

I think the author had a good idea going in, but its execution was just bad. Let's think about this - if I was a 12 year old, and my uncle died and I didn't tell anyone, I would be freaked the f out if, one day, I came home and his body was gone. And I was getting random dogs and meals from some weirdo. I would call the police in 2 seconds. This main character is 12 - not a little kid, he should know enou
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 13, 2016 Krista rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Katara Belmer
Have you honestly read a book that was do boring that you just couldn't go on to read it. Well this book is just that but I has to be honest to the readers that is reading this I just kept reading this book because I had to do my book review. Just by looking at the cover it looks boring in my opinion but when I go this book I just thought that it would be interesting because the cover is boring but I guess NOT. As you can see I do not like this book because its really plain it doesn't have a "w ...more
Gabe, orphaned at age two, finally finds a home with Uncle Vernon, a crusty, war-weary Vietnam veteran. Now eleven, Gabe is happy living with Vernon, and happier still not to be shuffled in and out of foster homes. They live a quiet, out-of-the-way life...out on a lonely stretch of land far beyond the town limits. Yet, Gabe's contentment and happiness are short-lived when he comes home one day from school to find his Uncle dead. Gabe is confused and unsure of what to do about his situation. He d ...more
Mar 19, 2010 H rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011-caudills
Gabe has lived with his Uncle Vernon for about 3 years, and the shy boy, bruised by years in the foster care system and the crusty and damaged Vietnam war vet have become inextricably tied to each other. Then one day Gabe comes home and finds his savior dead on the floor. Frightened and alone, the boy soon finds a rescuer in a mysterious friend who takes the body, leaves notes in the mailbox, along with advice and a canine protector. But of course, how long can a 12-year old hide the fact that h ...more
Allison Parker
Feb 17, 2011 Allison Parker rated it liked it
Shelves: juvenile, caudill2011
Uncle Vernon was the closest thing Gabe had to a father. But one day, when Gabe gets home from school, Uncle Vernon is sprawled out on the floor, his skin cold to the touch. Gabe is too terrified to call the police. Yet, the next day, his uncle’s body has been taken from the house. A note for Gabe waits in the mailbox: “I have a secret. Do not be afraid.”

Twelve-year-old Gabe tries his best to live on his own: he goes to school, makes sandwiches for himself, and does his own laundry. Normally a q
Megan Franks
Oct 24, 2010 Megan Franks rated it really liked it
After being shuffled through the foster care system for most of his young life, Gabe finally finds a home with his crabby old Uncle Vernon, a Vietnam war veteran and recluse. For the first time, Gabe feels loved and secure...until he discovers his uncle's dead body lying in the floor after school one day. Partly consumed with grief and partly scared of what will happen once someone discovers his death, Gabe tries to act as if nothing has happened. Two days later, the body disappears from the hou ...more
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“Gabe pulled the card from the envolope.

I want to help you.

He flipped the card over.

You are the best thing to ever happen to Vernon.

Then in the tiniest script were words that Gabe had to squint to read:

PS. The dog's name is Guppy.”
“Don't believe everything they tell you, boy. A watched pot does boil and sometimes you ken tell a book by its cover. Why, iffen there's a naked lady on it, then it ain't gonna show up in no Sunday school class, now is it?” 1 likes
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