Sunday, February 12, 2012

My Review: “Not in the Heart” by Chris Fabry


Truman Wiley used to report news stories from around the world, but now the most troubling headlines are his own. He’s out of work, out of touch with his family, out of his home. But nothing dogs him more than his son’s failing heart.

With mounting hospital bills and Truman’s penchant for gambling his savings, the situation seems hopeless . . . until his estranged wife throws him a lifeline—the chance to write the story of a death row inmate, a man convicted of murder who wants to donate his heart to Truman’s son.

As the execution clock ticks down, Truman uncovers disturbing evidence that points to a different killer. For his son to live, must an innocent man die? Truman’s investigation draws him down a path that will change his life, his family, and the destinies of two men forever.

Not in the Heart will release on February 1, 2012. For a sneak preview, download the first chapter.

I was born in West Virginia in 1961 and grew up in a small town much like Dogwood. I was affected by my parents, my older brothers, the hills, and books. I was never a very fast reader, but the things I read really helped change me. Particularly novels. I vowed I would write if I ever got the chance.

I met Jerry Jenkins at Moody Bible Institute in the 1980s. He discovered I wanted to write and said, “I can help you do this if you want, but it will be painful.” Boy was it painful. Gloriously painful. In 1998, Jerry and Dr. Tim LaHaye hired me to write the Left Behind: The Kids series. I had published five books up to that point. I wrote 35 books in that series over the next six years, finishing in 2004. I later collaborated with Jerry on the Red Rock Mysteries series and The Wormling series, and in 2008 the NASCAR-based RPM series rounded out my work in the area of children’s fiction.

Dogwood was my first attempt at writing fiction for adults. It took more than six years to get to the page and to find a publisher. It received the 2009 Christy Award for Christian fiction in the Contemporary Standalone category, which surprised the Dogwood out of me! My next novel, June Bug, draws its themes from the classic Victor Hugo tale, Les Miserables. A nine-year-old girl walks into Walmart and sees herself on a missing children poster. Who is she? Who is her father who travels with her in the beat-up RV? Charles Martin wrote this about the story: “Anne Lamott said that ‘good writing is about telling the truth.’ Chris Fabry has done this. Beautifully. June Bug is masterful. An honest story that dove deep inside me and lingered long after I turned the last page.” June Bug was named a 2010 finalist for the Christy Award and the ECPA’s Christian Book Award.

My Review:

Truman Wiley is a man lost–out of work as a reporter; out of touch with his family; drowning in gambling, hospital and school debts; loss of his small house; car repossessed; neglectful father and husband; and most importantly, out of touch with God. His son, Aiden, is slowly dying from a heart ailment, and is desperately in need of a heart transplant to survive.

Truman’s estranged wife, Ellen, gets him a job writing a book about Terrence Conley, a death row inmate accused of murder, who is willing to donate his heart for Aiden, an impossible feat in itself without intervention. Terrence and his estranged wife, Oleta, are friends of Ellen from church, and they just want his side of the story told before his execution. As most death row inmates, he claims his innocence.

After receiving the retainer money on the book, Truman immediately goes and gambles it away instead of visiting his son and paying off bills. His daughter, Abigail (Abby) ends up finding him and working with him on the book, since he neglected to pay her college bills so she could graduate.

In his book, Not in the Heart, Chris Fabry methodically creates a real-to-life story that is heart-wrenching in terms of Truman’s estrangement from himself, God and his family. One sees into the disturbing devastation of gambling, a peek into the realms of evil, Godless men, and the anguish of his love-starved family. Truman’s circumstances, his attitude towards God, and his comments directly spoken to you, the reader, opens wide a space for him in your heart–what a great point of view insertion that gets your attention! You sense the futility of his life without God, stumbling around, trying to stay ahead of the loan sharks and bill collectors. Your heart is truly caught up in Truman’s life and relationships, and he seems to stay on your mind as someone you know. The book also touches on those on death row who maybe shouldn’t be there–a hot topic today.

The investigative, suspenseful part of the story is woven in amongst the continuing family issues. You’ll find this to be a book of superb suspense with multiple plots, and a sensitive, heart-warming book of hope for family relationships. Without the prayers of the those who knew the Lord, things wouldn’t have happened as they did.

This book was provided by Audra Jennings of The B&B Media Group, Inc, in exchange for my honest review. No monetary compensation was exchanged.

Posted on February 12, 2012, and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , .

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