Prayers for Sale by Sandra Dallas: Book Review

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Cover of Prayers for Sale by Sandra Dallas3 Stars

Eighty-six-year-old Hennie Comfort meets 17-year-old Nit Spindle when she sees the young woman standing outside one day, contemplating an old sign hanging on her fence advertising “Prayers for Sale.” Hennie takes the newly-arrived woman under her wing, showing her how to survive in a Colorado mining town in the ’30s and passing on her vast collection of stories.

At heart, this was a sweet story about the friendship between women, friendship between generations, forgiveness, aging, and a life well-lived. There were some very dark stories, but I finished with a smile on my face.

Hennie was a great character and someone I would like to know in real life, but a few things bothered me.

This was written with a bit of a dialect and it didn’t ring true to me. Maybe it’s because I’m used to reading a Southern dialect. Maybe because it’s about two Southern women who live in Colorado, so their speech patterns have changed. But really I just think it got close enough to being right to really stand out as being wrong.

There’s a mystery running throughout the book, and I have to say that I was surprised when I found out what was going on. But we read Hennie’s thoughts throughout the entire book, and whenever she got close to the big mystery it all of a sudden got vague. An example–NOT a quote: “Hennie thought she would put some some chili on the stove. She thought about how much Jake used to like chili. She thought she’d soon have to do something about that one last thing that was bothering her.” What?!? I’ve seen that far into her thoughts, so it feels like a cheap trick to hide one thing to build some suspense throughout.

Hennie thinks that she has a few problems that she needs to resolve. Like I said, I didn’t see one coming, but I saw the solution to the others coming from a mile away.

This reads more like a collection of short stories set within a loose framework of Hennie and Nit’s friendship. That was fine for me, but I do realize that not everyone is a fan of that style.

The tree hugger in me is making me say that for a while, reading the descriptions of mining in the ’30s, I felt like we’ve made some progress in our environmental standards. Things sounded truly terrible back then. But then I remembered that we now practice mountaintop removal mining and I felt like we haven’t really made any progress at all.

Read this when you’re in the mood for a nice story and you aren’t feeling too picky about the writing style. It really was a sweet read.

Reviewed November 6, 2009

Read an excerpt.

Find author Sandra Dallas on her website, her blog, and Facebook.

Buy Prayers for Sale at

Friday Flashback Reviews, a feature at The Introverted Reader

Friday Flashback Reviews are a weekly feature here on The Introverted Reader. These are old reviews I wrote on GoodReads. Thanks to Angieville and her Retro Friday Reviews for the inspiration and encouragement!

I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop’s, my local independent bookstore located in beautiful downtown Asheville, NC; and Better World Books. I will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site.

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1 Comment

  1. It's been a while since I read this book, and I can't remember exactly what the mystery was, but I remember that I really enjoyed it. Like you said, it was sweet and made me smile at the end, although some pretty terrible things happened in between.

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