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The Mailbox

3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  1,329 ratings  ·  250 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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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,571)
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Cindy
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!
Bethany
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.
Camden
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
Ryan
Dec 02, 2008 Ryan rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
...more
Christina
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
Melanie
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;
...more
Lisa
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Riley
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
Wisteriouswoman
This might not be that interesting to a lot of young people but as an adult I truly enjoyed it. It doesn't really fit into any time period--some of it seems like it could have been written in the fifties. There is a certain timelessness about the Virgina setting and the dialect and colorful expressions that Gabe remembers his Uncle Vernon saying. It also has a bit of a tall tale about it which worked for me--it drew me right in!

Gabe is a likeable character, unbelievably innocent considering he w
...more
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
Cindy
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!
Marion
I enjoyed The Mailbox and found it moving. If you can suspend belief a bit when it comes to the central plot point, the writing is engaging, the characters are pretty well developed, and the mystery and "what happens next" factor will keep you interested. The book loses a star for me on a couple of points, most particularly the repeated references to Of Mice and Men and The Call of the Wild, which seemed out of place. I've read both, but doubt many 6th graders have. Their connections to this sto ...more
Erin
Possibly closer to 3 1/2 stars. I picked this book up after seeing it at a Scholastic book sale. I enjoyed the characters and felt like Gabe was believable as a 12 year-old boy who had basically grown up in foster homes. It's rare that a book brings tears to my eyes and this one did. It's a quick-read with caring and decent adults. Really enjoyed the conversations between Gabe and his Uncle Vernon, a Vietnam Vet. I'll include one of his quotes at the end of the review.

However, I think it's more
...more
Deniece
A young friend of mine, the daughter of a very good friend, introduced me to this book and I was quite surprised by the depth and emotion it brought out in me. I truly enjoyed the story and the strong friendship between Gabe and Guppy. Smitty was a great character, as was Uncle Vernon. The minor characters turned out to be major players and I appreciated what the author did with them and their actions. I liked how she wrote the characters from the point of view of the child and then you saw the ...more
Debra Rowand
This was chosen (by me) for our Middle School Book Club & I really didn't love this book.....BUT, the middle school readers really liked it. Obviously I was not the book's target audience. But really?!? Adopted foster nephew Gabe finds his uncle dead on the floor, not only does he call no one, he throws a blanket over both of them and goes to sleep. Next day when he came home from school (yes, he went to school), the body was missing. Several days after that, someone delivers a dog to his ho ...more
Lucy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
H
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
Arminzerella
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jill
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
...more
Ruthanne
The cover kinda turned me off. But after reading the back, the premise sounded quite interesting. I actually listened to this book. 12 year old Gabe has not had the easiest life. Bounced from foster home to foster home, he feels he has finally found his family when the state places him with his half-uncle Vernon. Uncle Vernon loves his nephew as his own, but being in the war has done a number on his personality. Uncle Vernon is wise and instills upon Gabe day to day lessons. Upon coming home fro ...more
Lisa Nocita
Gabe, a twelve-year-old too familiar with the foster care system came to live with his reclusive uncle when he was ten. Since then, he's managed to make friends and is relieved to be permanently settled. His uncle, while crabby, gruff and old-fashioned, has a good heart and cares for Gabe. When Gabe comes home from the first day of middle school, he finds his uncle dead. Gabe is stunned and afraid of what will happen if anyone finds out his uncle is dead. In his grief and shock he decides to put ...more
Megan Franks
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
Chris
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
...more
Andy
Jan 13, 2011 Andy rated it 1 of 5 stars
Shelves: 1-star
In a rural part of southwest Virginia, sixth grader Gabe finds his Uncle Vernon dead. Gabe tells no one (out of fear of being sent back into the foster care system), but when he returns from school the following day his uncle’s body has vanished. Where did it go? The only clue Gabe finds is a letter in his mailbox that says “I have a secret. Do not be afraid.” The Mailbox is one of those books that starts on a superbly strong and captivating note, but then proceeds to loose momentum and eventual ...more
Maddie
The Mailbox by Audrey Shafer is about twelve year old Gabe finds his uncle Vernon whose forgotten nearly by the town. Gabe finds his uncle dead, frightened; he doesn't tell anyone. The next day, in the mailbox is a letter; IHAVE A SECRET. DO NOT BE AFRAID. After he enters the house Vernon's body is gone. This book told me a lot how two people could be so connected, even after death. You don't lose them, there are memories to live by.

I thought the mystery of a secret card writer was so new to me
...more
Lana Tessler
In Mrs. Tessler's Class: Family and Friends

Absolutely one of the more gorgeous books I've read. A simple story about Gabe, who is taken care of by his last living relative, Uncle Vernon. When Vern dies unexpectedly, Gabe finds solace through mysterious notes left in the mailbox as he struggles to deal with his grief and guilt for thinking his uncle's death was somehow his fault. Gabe's a "young" sixth grader in this emotionally speaking, but he's articulate and kind and absolutely sympathetic. I
...more
Elaine volpe
Gabe’s mother died when he was two. She was brutally murdered in fact and Gable was left in the van unattended. When police discovered him, he was immediately sent to live in a foster home. He went from foster home to foster home until he was ten years old. It was then, that a social worker found his uncle Vernon. Uncle Vernon was Gabe’s mom’s half brother and he agreed to adopt Gabe. And so he lived with his uncle for two years until one day he comes home from school and finds his uncle’s dead ...more
Julie
On the first day of sixth grade, Gabe comes home to find his uncle dead on the study floor. Because he spent most of his life in foster care, Gabe can't stand the thought of admitting he is alone in the house. The next day, his uncle's body disappears, and notes begin arriving in Gabe's mailbox.

Throughout the novel, Gabe learns more about his uncle, a veteran of the Vietnam War. He finds solace in books and his English class. For a while, he survives at home on his own, but eventually the polic
...more
Becky Mccammon
*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
...more
Allison Parker
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
...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.”
2 likes
“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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