The Promise of Jesse Woods

Promise of Jesse Woods.jpgAuthor: Chris Fabry

Publisher: Tyndale House

Release Date: July 1, 2016

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Wonderfully written story about finding the truth in your life and letting go and letting God take control.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Tyndale Publishing House for an honest and fair review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

It’s 1972 and as far as Matt Plumley’s is concerned, his life has taken a turn for the worse. An avid Pittsburg Pirates fan, his family has just moved from Pittsburg to the small town of Dogwood, West Virginia where his father grew up.  Now just miles away from Cincinnati and surrounding by Reds fans, his father has taken a new pastorship as his boyhood church.  Matt has always been on the heavy side of the scale and not made many friends, but he goes out and rides his bike.  He stumbles upon a horse that is caught in a fence and tries to find help to rescue it.  The first person he meets is Jesse Woods, a girl that lives across the road from where the horse is caught.  They work together with another kid named Dickie to free the horse and a bond of friendship ensues.  However, the community shuns both Jesse and Dickie as she is considered white trash and he is a colored boy.  Multiple trouble ensues on many levels for the three friends over the summer that leaves Matt and Dickie at odds and Jesse and her sister Daisy in a poor state.

Fast forward twelve years to 1984, Matt learns that Jesse is about to get married to one of the boys who was very cruel to her. Always one to play the white knight, Matt decides to leave Chicago and return to Dogwood to save Jesse from distress.  However, he discovers that not everything is as he remembers.  As he remembers the summer of 1972, several random events start to click into place and he may understand why Jesse Woods broke her ultimate promise to him all those years ago.

This was a really good read. I haven’t read anything by Chris Fabry before, but I understand why people talk about his books now.  He was able to make the reader become Matt Plumley and really connect with him.  The mind of a teenage boy is a very interesting place to be and Fabry did a great job of constructing it.  He also did a great job of the conjuring up the other characters as though I had the same relationships with them as Matt.  He also does a great job of setting up the scene of 1972.  I especially like the reference to Jerry Reed’s music as well as a few others.  Subtle, yet satisfying.

Coming-of-age fiction is a difficult arena to write in because it really requires the author and reader to be vulnerable. As a reader, this story will make you vulnerable and remember your first love and how you felt.  Also, you will remember the loss.  The story played out well.  Never a dull moment in either 1972 or 1984.  Can’t wait to see what Fabry has in store next.



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