Under a Cloudless Sky

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Fairy, Chris. Under a Cloudless Sky. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Moving smoothly and logically between 1933 and 2004, best-selling author, Chris Fabry, pens a fascinating novel surrounding a mining town in West Virginia. With a character involved in both time periods who is harboring a secret which could change everything, the believable plot takes twists and turns that spin until the end. With an embedded message about a relevant topic, this novel is full.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Having read several of Chris Fabry’s previous books, his newest one, Under a Cloudless Sky, was definitely on my list to read. As with all of this author’s books, the message is deep, the writing is solid, the story is interesting and the book is captivating. Not a “fluffy” read but one with a message concerning aging parents, the characters, plot, events and surprises all seem as if they could be real. Complete with discussion questions for group use, this would be wonderful for a book club, a library or perhaps even a ministry. Excellent author; excellent book!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies
*I received a complimentary copy of Under a Cloudless Sky from Tyndale House Publishers for an honest review*

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The Promise of Jesse Woods

Fabry, Chris. The Promise of Jesse Woods. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers. 2016.

thepromiseofjessewoods

SUMMARY:
Spanning from 1972 to 1984 while moving alternatively between the years, The Promise of Jesse Woods tells the tale of three preteens growing into adults. With secrets, traumas and actions shared between them, the now adults must come to terms with promises, stories and consequences, some of them known, others unknown at the time. Matt, Dickie and Jesse live separate lives yet are bonded by events shaping their lives many years ago…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
In this deeply emotional and moving “coming-of-age” story, author and Christy Award Winner, Chris Fabry, shares characters so real, you may just personally recognize them. Always an author of truly passionate and stirring novels, The Promise of Jesse Woods is no exception. Bouncing between the time periods, from past to present, I found myself drawn into story, always reading just “one more page” which ultimately turned into chapter after chapter. With childhood, choices, consequences, forgiveness, faith and life combined into structuring preteens into adults, this is a storyline that may remind you of your own growing up. Well done.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Promise of Jesse Woods from Tyndale House Publishers for my honest review*

Every Waking Moment

Fabry, Chris. Every Waking Moment. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers. 2013.

SUMMARY:
fabryTreha Langsam, a young woman struggling with her own difficulties, has a special gift…she is able to connect with elderly people suffering from dementia. Though not able to cure the residents of Desert Gardens Retirement Home, Treha provides a way of communication, if only temporary. While helping those in need, she must “find” her own self albeit very painful at times. When a documentary shifts the story to Treha, she must question “if this is as good as life gets, it that enough”?

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
This novel caused me to ponder life in ways I hadn’t considered. Deeply intriguing yet profoundly compassionate, the story connected people of all ages and stages in life with each other. Through almost a funnel effect, the author took the position that everyone’s life story affects others in some way. It poses the question…”when is enough, good enough”? Not a genre I normally read, in fact, almost a book I found myself discontinuing, I became drawn into the heart of the storyline and compulsively finished.

To delve deeper into the meaning of the novel, here are a few questions and answers posed to the author, Chris Fabry:

1. What was your inspiration for this book, Every Waking Moment?
The question at the center of this story is “If this is as good as it gets, am I okay with
life?” I find this is a universal question that hits at the heart of our outlook on life and
our belief in God. The other question it raises is this: If you could bring someone back from dementia
or Alzheimer’s and have a conversation, what would you ask? What would you say to that person?

2. Tell me about your main character Treha Langsam. Was this character based upon anyone in particular?
She was loosely based on my own children and what they’ve gone through the past five years. This is probably my most personal story to date. We were exposed to toxic mold. Most people think you can only get a rash or have respiratory damage, but it can attack the brain. Treha’s symptoms are similar to what I’ve seen in them and others who have been exposed.

3. What lessons or truths will your readers find in the pages of this novel?
I love the fact that God doesn’t look at the exterior; he looks at the heart. As humans, we have a
tendency to judge on first impressions, but we miss so much by doing that. Those who are disabled, those who have some kind of struggle in life, those who are older—all are lumped into a category,
and this is such a disservice to them and us.

4. How do you expect Treha’s story to resonate with your readers?
I think everyone feels a bit like Treha. She is the little engine that could, even if she isn’t
given a chance. And it only takes one person giving someone else a chance. I’m hoping
readers will give someone a chance—or maybe let someone else give them a chance.

5. As a writer, what did you particularly enjoy about crafting this story?
I loved getting to know Treha better because she’s so mysterious to everyone around
her. She’s also a bit scary. To crawl into her skin and walk around and see what she sees
is a heartbreaking, life-affirming journey. I also liked the discovery that came with other
characters who encounter Treha and see how she changes their lives.

6. What is your hope for this story? How would you like it to impact readers?
My hope is that this force of nature, Treha, would empower readers to believe the truth
about themselves and others. In Christ, you are stronger than you think you are. With
God, you can do anything he calls you to do.

7. How has this novel helped you to grow as a storyteller?
Trying to tell a complex story in a simple way is always difficult, and people’s lives are
hugely complex. Trying to uncover the truth about Treha—why she is the way she is and
where she might be able to go from here—helped me as a human being as well as a writer.

8. Your novels typically touch on a relevant and current topic in our culture. What topics do you weave into this novel?
One thread running deeply through this story is the reliance we have on drugs. It’s much easier to take a pill than to make a lifestyle change. And this is affecting individuals, families, and our culture. It also means a great deal of money to institutions, so in tackling this, I know I’m not going to make friends in the pharmaceutical industry. I’m grateful for drugs—my son wouldn’t be alive today without insulin. But every positive thing can have a negative side as well

9. What big questions will this novel get your reader
thinking about? What is your backstory? What is the worth of an individual?

Old, young, disabled, unsuccessful…several characters are faced with questions of their own worth as well as how they treat others. I’ve always heard that your faith is tested by how you treat
someone who can’t do anything for you. This story will get you thinking about some of
those deep issues of the heart.

10. How do you manage your time with such a full life, including a writing career, a radio
career, and a large family?

Everyone has the same amount of time each day. We simply make choices about what
we invest in. Hence, I spend less time watching television than I used to. That’s a huge
time waster. I get up earlier and go to bed earlier. And when you begin your day
centered on God’s Word and ask him what your priorities should be, things generally fall
into place. I haven’t arrived at that balance, but I’m struggling as well as I can.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies.

*I received a complimentary copy of Every Waking Moment from Tyndale House Publishers for my honest review*