Friday, February 10, 2012

‘Not In The Heart’ by Chris Fabry – Book Review

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Over the two + years that I have been reviewing books on my blog, I have read many incredible books (several hundred, as a matter of fact). The latest, ‘Not In The Heart’ by Chris Fabry, ranks at the top.

Here is the synopsis of this amazing novel:

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.

Here is the biography of this author:

Chris Fabry is the 1982 graduate of the W. Page Pitt School of Journalism at Marshall University and a native of West Virginia. He is heard on Moody Radio’s Chris Fabry Live!, Love Worth Finding, and Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman. He and his wife, Andrea, are the parents of nine children and live in Arizona. Chris has published more than seventy books for adults and children. His book Dogwood won a Christy Award in 2009. In 2011 Almost Heaven won the 2011 Christy Award in the Contemporary Standalone category and the ECPA award for fiction.

Here is the book trailer for this extremely compelling novel:

I was intrigued by how Truman describes the Christian faith:

Religion has always seemed an opiate to me, something to numb a person to reality. But as I stared at the newspaper article, processing the past few days, it seemed that certain people in my life were in prison and others weren’t. Ellen [his wife] was entombed in a hospital. Terrelle [the man on death row] was locked up tight in maximum security. And yet both of them had a freedom I didn’t. I wasn’t bound by physical constraints, yet I felt more subdued than both. That was not an easy truth to acknowledge, and I wouldn’t have made the connection without a heavy dose of introspection that comes on the gaming floor when you have lost your last two hundred dollars that was really a birthday present from the grandparents. (pp. 147-148)

Later on in the book, he elaborated on his view of Jesus and Christians:

I’m not a student of Jesus. From what I understand, he was a good 
teacher and promoted peace and love. My problem is his followers. Most think they know how everybody else ought to live. They whip the truth around like a scalpel and wave it at homosexuals and adulterers, until a pastor is caught with a prostitute. Then they talk about forgiveness and restoration. Either that or they hang their own guy and hire another.
I know that’s being hard on Jesus, because there are some of his people who aren’t jerks, like Ellen. She tries to love people as they are and not who she wants them to be. Take me, for instance. I’m hard to love. I admire her Herculean efforts. (p. 328)

Truman had a huge gambling problem; this addiction overtook his life when he allowed himself to indulge (which was often). I can also have an addictive personality to a certain extent, so it was interesting to hear Truman’s mindset (via Mr. Fabry’s eloquent prose):

It’s hard to describe the compulsion to someone who has never experienced it. It’s like when the carnival barker gives you three darts to pop two balloons, and you can’t stop buying darts because all you can think of is that other balloon and how easy it will be to take the big doll home if you just spend two more dollars on another dart. Only I wasn’t spending dollars, I was spending thousands, which made the high even better. The bigger the risk, the more adrenaline, the better the feeling, the greater the rush. (pp. 56-57)

Mr. Fabry wanted to hear from bloggers to learn who is Truman in their life. I personally don’t have a Truman; for that, I am grateful! I don’t have a person with addiction in my life, but I do have people that I pray for on a regular basis. The main reason is to hope that the Lord will save them and change them from the inside out. There is one person in particular. The Lord has not reached this person yet, but I am still holding out hope that this person will ‘see the light’ before it is too late. I pray that any hypocrisy in my life (as Truman alluded to on the quote from page 328 above) does not keep this person from the Lord. I do know that it is the Lord who saves, not me. Still, I want my behavior not be a deterrent to anyone.

I had the great opportunity to read Chris’ last novel, ‘Almost Heaven’ (you can read my review here). I was mesmerized by that novel and knew I wanted to get on the blog tour for ‘Not In The Heart.’ I was not disappointed! Mr. Fabry is an amazingly talented writer! This book exceeded my expectations. There was a twist at the end that I was NOT expecting!

You can order this book here.

This book was published by Tyndale House and provided by the B & B Media Group for review purposes. I have an Advance Reader Copy; the page numbers in the final product may not exactly match.

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