One day Gabe, the 12-year-old protagonist, comes home to find Uncle Vernon, his adoptive guardian, sprawled on the floor. Uncle Vernon is dead. Gabe isn’t sure what to do because he and Vernon live in a very rural area, far away from anyone. So Gabe lies down beside Vernon and falls asleep. Gabe does not want to re-enter the foster care system. The next day, Gabe goes off to school. Upon returning home, his uncle’s body is gone and a note has been left in the mailbox. The note says, “I know your secret.” As you’ve already surmised from my blog, young adult literature is all about putting its characters out of the supervisory reaches of adult figures. Gabe is on his own, dealing with the trauma of losing his lone guardian. Where he will go after it’s discovered Vernon will die is Gabe’s most pressing issue.
The mailbox is a story for everyone. Gabe, only twelve, has matured beyond his years as a result of bouncing around from foster home to foster home. And just when he lands in a sanctuary all his own, Uncle Vernon’s home, and begins to feel comfortable, his world turns upside down. With the help of other adults in his life, adults who he initially fears might make decisions against his better interests, he comes to closure and moves on. This is a great story!