This incredibly well written book was not an easy read. You pick up books that you know are going to be entertaining, and this is not one that is entertainment quality. It is a deep, well thought out novel. Truman Wiley used to be an incredible husband, father and writer. Gambling has become his mistress, taking the place of his family and he cannot even get himself to go visit his dying son. When his family is offered a chance at a new heart for their son, he grasps at the chance..but wonders if in the end, his son will still die. The gambling, the abandonment of his family in their time of need and his lack of relationship with God all drive Truman to a place of wondering as he writes a book about a murderer on death row. What if in writing this man’s story, he finds out he is innocent? What does that mean for his son? This very deeply moving story is one you will savor and contemplate. It is not a fast read. It is one, like Mr. Fabry’s other novels, that requires deep thought. It has an ending with a twist that gives new meaning to the title! Excellent book!
What an emotional, I would even say heart-wrenching story, with tough decisions, and suspense right to the end. I’ve read other books by Chris Fabry, and I'm always impressed with his writing. This book is absorbing, and I felt very connected with the characters. It had tragic situations, and reflected how real people would (or might) think and react. The conclusion surprised me. I highly recommend it.
This was the first time I had read a book by this author. I will certainly look for more. This was a very sad but true story of how addictions ruin our relationships and keep a strong hold on us. Chris puts a lot of humor in his thoughts which I liked. It was such a surprising ending! I look forward to more from Chris.
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Review 4 for Not in the Heart - eBook
Date:July 16, 2013
What an excellent book!!! What a surprise ending!! Very interesting, page turner! Chris Fabry, you have been truly blessed with wonderful writing skills....
Chris Fabry has penned another winner with his latest book, Not in the Heart. From the back cover description, I thought I had prepared myself for what would be between the front and back cover, but honestly, I was not prepared for the emotional journey that I took through this story.
I imagine most folks know a "Truman" in their circle of friends. Me? Yeah, I have one, too, and he struggles with an addiction that only God can heal at this point. It's difficult to watch someone I love succumb to fleshly desires, and sometimes I can't help but wonder, "If only..." "If only he hadn't made this decision," "If only he hadn't met this person," "If only he hadn't gone down this road," yada, yada, yada... But when I feel overwhelmed with those questions, I can do nothing but lay my concerns at the foot of the cross, and pray for his deliverance.
I guess in some way it was easy for me to identify with Ellen, Truman's wife, as well. She had been let down so many times over the years because of Truman's actions, decisions, and absence in their family. After awhile, it became human nature to think that nothing would ever change. But somehow, she concocted a plan with the wife of a death-row inmate to lure Truman back into her heart and life, and more importantly, back to their son who was struggling to hold on just a few more days for a heart transplant that could save his life.
I also connected on a small level with Terrell who was on death row for murder, yet still maintained his innocence. Before he landed in jail, he was nothing more than a no-good drunk and beggar, trying to bum a dollar from any Tom, Dick, or Harry that had it to spare. But once he got to jail, he found the Lord, and before too long, the death sentence that he was facing in 30 short days meant that he was that much closer to seeing Jesus face to face.
Now, some may think that a jail conversion is just a ploy for some inmates to butter up their family members or friends, but truly, many of them are genuine. While I was reading this book, it was on my calendar to re-certify as a volunteer at a local prison. Once a year, some of the inmates get together and host a banquet for all the volunteers that have taken time to come and minister to them at the prison. During the banquet, several of them stood and shared their testimonies of how they were on the wrong path when they got there. One guy in particular shared his story of being in a gang, and when he got to jail, he didn't want to have anything to do with some fellow inmates that were trying to witness to him. But they, as well as a couple of the chaplains, kept working on him, and before too long, he gave his life to the Lord. Now, he's a completely changed person. When new inmates come in, some of them that he knows personally from his old life, he continues the cycle by being a witness to them. He makes it a priority to go to the chapel services that are held throughout the week, mostly run by volunteers, so he can continue to learn more about God. That was just one of many testimonies shared, and it's so encouraging to know that a difference is being made in the hearts of so many, most of whom society has ignored and forgotten. It made Terrell's story believable, and while I've never personally met someone on death row, I could identify with his honesty and sincerity as he shared his story with Truman.
Once again, Chris has found a way to create such a unique story that is bound to penetrate the hearts of several readers. I can attest that it has penetrated mine. And there's something for everyone here, too...a little drama, a little mystery, a little sadness, and even a touch of humor that I never expected. So, if you're already a fan of Chris Fabry, then I have no doubt that you'll enjoy his latest. It's already earned it's place on my keeper shelf. :o)
A young woman was horrifically murdered, and now a man sits on death row to pay for it. As a final act of repentance and generosity, the prisoner offers to donate his heart to the son of an unemployed journalist with one catch: the journalist must write the prisoner's story, including the man's refusal to confess to the murder.
Willing to do anything to save his son's heart, the journalist begins to tell the story of one man losing his life, and ends by discovering his own life - complete with its flaws, joys, and connections to people he hadn't dreamed existed.
This story is filled with messy lives and tangled emotions. Parents losing their children. Children losing their parents. Employees losing jobs. Gamblers losing money. Men and women losing their spouses. Everyone losing hope. And all the sorrow and loss slipping into a huge void that only one thing can fill. Only, there aren't very many who recognize the answer staring them in the face.
This book hurt to read. I cried. There is so much sorrow in the world, and this book holds up a mirror to it. Yet, like Pandora's box, at the bottom of this book is hope. A hope massive enough to carry the mystery story, one man's searchings, and an unimaginable ending on its back. The author does a masterful job telling a story which opens a door past sympathy for those who are hurting, and into empathy for what they are feeling; past cynicism as to the future, and into a hope beyond understanding.
Like all doors, you must be willing to walk through it.
The quote from Tom Stoppard “Life is a gamble, at terrible odds – if it was a bet, you wouldn't take it” starts off this latest novel by Chris Fabry. Truman comes across as a very selfish man, caring for himself rather than for his wife who is the sole caregiver for their son, Aiden, who was born with congenital heart disease, and at the age of eighteen years old is on the list for a heart transplant and their daughter Abigail. I had a hard time connecting with Truman for this reason. In contrast to this, Ellen his wife is approachable as a mother trying to do all she can to save her son, while also being their for her daughter. Terrell is someone you are anxious for, a guy that you hope will get a second chance. Yet in spite of that I found Not in the Heart to be an emotional, edge of your seat novel as Chris takes us through the legal quagmire of organ donors, innocent men on death row and the families of those who are facing a sure imminent death. The tension was so tight, that even thinking about it a while later, I need to remind myself to relax, and take a deep breath. The twists and turns kept me reading long after I should have put it down. But this is not a novel only of doom and gloom and darkness. Chris Fabry writes a novel of hope and redemption. I believe that the sign of a excellent novel is one where you remember the characters long after you are finished reading it, and this is one of those.
I did not expect to like this book so well. It deals with very unapproachable subjects like heart transplants, death by lethal injection and gambling disorders to boot. However with the smart and charming wit of the author it all comes together to provide a loving,humorous and faithful tale that the avid reader will truly enjoy.
“I’ve found the only thing I can control is how well I tell the story and follow the truth. . . . The truth will always lead you to a good place.”--Truman Wiley, lead character in "Not In The Heart"
Welcome to the world of a gifted, out-of-work investigative reporter and writer who is estranged from his family that needs him desperately and which he needs desperately. A world of devastating illness, addiction, crime, love, trust, distrust, societal struggles with organ donation, and the world of the condemned on death row.
This book has overlapping plot lines and character development that will leave your mind reeling and won't allow you to put it down for long at a time before you are drawn to pick it up again.
Chris Fabry has done it again! He has created a tale that stabs at our heart's door and jogs our conscience with issues that we sometimes don't want to face. Issues to which we and society as a whole don't really have clear-cut answers.
As this plot unfolds, so do the scars of life come to the surface and a healing of soul begins to take place. Personal healing of relationships between father and daughter, father and son, wife and husband. Healing of a soul in need of a redeemer but which struggles with accepting that redemption and forgiveness.
No peaking at the back of this book for it's exciting conclusion. This is a read in which you will not be disappointed.
Who is Chris Fabry? Chris Fabry is an award-winning author and radio personality who hosts the daily program Chris Fabry Live! on Moody Radio. He is also heard on Love Worth Finding, Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, and other radio programs. A 1982 graduate of the W. Page Pitt School of Journalism at Marshall University and a native of West Virginia... Read Full Bio
Addiction: The main male character in this book, Truman, is addicted. His addiction is gambling. Most of us have someone in our lives who are addicted to something. Growing up in a conservative Christian home, there were few addictions and vices with which we had to deal. There were, however, a number of "smokers." Chain smokers light up one cigarette after another, finish meals with a smoke, and begin and end the day with a smoke. Addicted? Certainly. Most of the time smoking is not something that ruins families like drinking, gambling, immorality. But it is addicting, and it has a lasting, detrimental affect.
I was provided a complimentary an advance reader copy of "Not In The Heart" by Tyndale House Publishers in order to provide a review. I was under no obligation to write a positive review.
It took me a while to like the main character in this book. Put simply, he is a jerk. Gambling addict, absent father and husband, and he hasn't even been to visit his son in the hospital. Over the course of the book, I came to like and appreciate him in spite of his many faults.
This is a very moving book, with a little bit of suspense thrown in. Once I started reading it, I couldn't put it down, and got totally caught up in the story. I haven't read much written by Fabry, but this book was top-notch. The story is gritty, showing the depths of the emotions of the characters, and had a terrific plot: a man on death row, wanting to give his heart to a teenage boy who desperately needs a new heart. The boy's father is writing the inmate's story, but finds evidence that could mean his innocence. But the inmate's innocence means no new heart for the boy who so desperately needs one.
I wondered from the beginning of the book how the author would solve that dilemma. Would the boy just die, needing a new heart that he never got because of his father's great investigative prowess? Would the father keep the evidence to himself and let an innocent man die, so his own son would live?
One thing the author did do, was pull me into the story, and I did read it in one day from the beginning to the very bittersweet and surprising ending. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and highly recommend it.
I had never heard of this author before I got this book in. And I don't know where I have been!! This was an excellent book with a lot of suspense in it. I enjoy a good mystery booka nd this one had plenty of it:) But it is also a heart searching book that will have you thinking about some deep things. Is it right for someone else to die for another person? Would you give your life for another person? These are just some of the questions that reading this book bring alive. I really didn't care for the bad guy but that is how you are supposed to feel, right? Truman's daughter was someone I kind of clicked with. Overall a good book and quite lengthy! Thank you for an excellent read!
This is the story of Truman Wiley, a middle aged man run down by life. He has gone from being a world-renown journalist, to being a washed up gambler consumed with the grief of life. He is indebt over his head,hiding from a loan shark and now homeless. He has abandoned his wife, college-aged daughter and teenage son. His son has been gravely ill all his life, and now needs a heart transplant to live. He receives a call from his estranged wife that could be the opportunity of a lifetime. A man sitting on death row wants Truman to write his story. He claims he is innocent and wants people to know the truth once he is dead. He also wants to donate his heart to their son. Truman reluctantly takes the job beliving the man is guilty. But as he writes the story things don’t quite add up and he begins to have doubts about the guilt of this prisoner. This is where the conflict of the book lies. Should Truman write the story as it has been told in the courtroom, and allow the man to die to save his son, or correct dig deeper and expose the real killer? I enjoyed this story very much. The characters were real and I could identify with their feelings and thoughts. Truman Wiley wrestles with ideas and thoughts that are tough issues to resolve, and his own experience facing a decision for Christ may not happen as you expect. In the writing style Mr. Farby does most of the book from the perspective of Truman, but some of the chapters are written from the perspective of other characters which created an interesting dynamic to the experience of the book.
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone that loves digging into the truth and all the struggles that go along with that process.
I was given a complimentary advanced reader copy of this book by B & B Media Group for review purposes, and I was not required to write a positive review.
First, I love Chris Fabry fiction books. That is also true about Not in the Heart, his newest. With that said, stay with me on this review even though it seems that at certain points I might not have loved it.
I have never had a book that I liked this much but really disliked the main character. I have had bad guys that I don't like, but that is the point right? I have had books were the characters are poorly written, but that is not the case here. This was a main character that I really just struggled to like. If he was a real person, I would not have thought much of him. There were even certain parts of the book where I felt like I was reading this book just to see what bad would finally happen to him.
Truman has followed his dream where ever and whenever it took him. It has brought him fame and fortune, but has also cost him his family. He never said no to doing a story no matter what he would have to miss. Birthdays, holidays, vacations, sports game, writing the next great news story was more important than anything and everything that had to do with his family.
His son Aiden's life depends on the death of someone who has a match for his heart. They finally found one; the problem is that person is still using it. At least until his execution, which is scheduled for 30 days from now. When Truman agrees to write the convicted man's story, he becomes involved in his family's lives in more ways than he was prepared for.
I hate to say it, but that is as much as I am going to share of Truman's story. This book has so many different layers to it that to just doing a short review about it doesn't do it justice. The one question it speaks to is, can a convicted prisoner, whether on death row or not, donate his organs to someone? I know that is a very slippery slope that we as a society have refrained from approaching because of how it can suddenly become a problem.
As I said earlier, I really did like this book, I just had a problem with Truman. It is one of those books that when you get done reading it you still think about it for a while. Every time I went to write this review, I kept thinking of different things I wanted to share, but I also don't want to give the story line away, so I will be saying no more, but this would be a great book for a book club.
I'll be the first to admit that this is not my normal kind of "must-read" book. I was traveling in Alabama and had stopped at Sam's for some gas and a quick restroom break. While I was there, I started browsing their book selection (c'mon, can you go into ANY store that has books and NOT browse them?) I have purchased a couple of books by Mr. Fabry for the church library, but I will admit I hadn't read any of them. Anyway, I see this book and it looked pretty interesting (and the price was right, $7.99). Later that evening after I got checked into my hotel room I pulled out the book and opened to the first page. 2 hours later, I was so engrossed in this book, I could tell that my bedtime wasn't going to be any time soon.
It's always interesting to me when I hear authors speak of their characters as if they were real people. If that was the case with Truman, I would have had to have punched him very early in this book. Truman is so self-absorbed with himself that I wanted to scream out loud at him every time he turned his back on his family. Mr. Fabry writes his characters so that you feel what they feel, you laugh when they laugh and cry when they cry.
This book is a wild roller coaster ride of emotions from meeting with Truman, to him finally showing up to the hospital to see his son, back to him relapsing into his old self again and finally to the ending. I won't give it away because I feel that you have to read this book, but I can tell you that the Gasp! that came out of my mouth at the end had to have at least awakened several guests in the hotel that night.
So should you read it? My answer is yes! This is a great book to be read by anybody, but specifically to us men as a reminder that it isn't all about us.
I have enjoyed Chris Fabry's career. He's had a long career in Christian broadcasting and as an author. I've always enjoyed his perspective. He's real, somewhat humorous, and approaches faith from a humble perspective. But, this is the first novel of Chris' that I read, to my regret.
Chris tells the story of Truman Wiley, a world-class journalist whose life is in a shambles. His son is dying of a heart disease. His marriage is on the rocks because of his own poor choices, and he's got a gambling problem that has stripped away his dignity. But he's got one more chance to do something redemptive with his life. This is an authentic, earthly novel about a man's search for meaning and purpose. It's a riveting, rollicking, real-world tale, full of humor and grace.
I enjoyed Not In the Heart from the very first page. I was captivated by its twists and turns, the suspense, the drama, the intrigue. It's some of the best fiction I've read in a long time. Not predictable. The writing is tight, crisp, and original. And the subtle message underneath points to the only hero of our life stories: Jesus Christ.
Not in the Heart by Chris Fabry is an indescribable story of a father forced to make an agonizing decision about truth and what is right. Truman Wiley has excelled at being a failure for the last several years. He lost his position as a network newsman, abandoned the family he had only been minimally attached to, and gambled himself not only into bankruptcy but also into the debt of a dangerous loan shark. His life has little purpose left when he is given an unusual offer. Terrell Conley is scheduled to be executed for the murder of a young woman, Diana, several years ago, but while in prison, he found Christ and wants to make something good out of his death by volunteering to donate his heart to Truman's son, Aiden, who has been battling a congenital condition for much of his life. Terrell's wife, Oleta, had befriended Truman's wife, Ellen, in church, and the two women came up with a plan to help both of their wayward husbands. Truman takes the job, mostly to get his hands on the cash being offered, but soon finds himself pulled into the tragic story of Diana's life that raises questions about what really happened to her. Sometimes it's hard to review a book, because it's difficult to find interesting things to say about it. It's not that the book may be bad, it's just that it's so similar to a million other books published each year. Not with this story. Not in the Heart is unlike any other book I've ever read. It's impossible to sum up the plot easily; it's not a romance or a murder mystery; it's not suspense or typical Christian fiction. What it is is incredibly written. The pages simply fly by. Fabry doesn't waste time on superfluous descriptions; he sticks to deeply insightful interactions and actions. Truman is truly an unlikable character, which normally turns me off in a book, but he wins over readers, as he does with his embattled wife, with his quick wit and deprecating humor, as well as his truth-telling, even when it hurts. When his daughter or Oleta call him on the carpet, he reads even deeper attacks in their subtext, and as he recognizes the truth in each word and hates himself for it, I couldn't help but ache for him and the and the man he could be. There were times when Truman blew $15,000 at the casino, stole his daughter's savings bonds, and other sins that I wanted to say "Really" and punch him. Every time I started to warm up to him, he gave into his fear and addictions and ran from his family again. And yet, over time Truman begins to regain his humanity, and that is the real story here, of a man turning from complete selfishness and dissolution to finding his heart and strength. Fabry's writing is superb. I found myself thinking about the characters when I wasn't reading the book; I couldn't get them out of my head, and now that the story is over, I'm a bit sad. The ending is perfect, exactly what it needs to be. It's only February, but Chris Fabry may well have written the best book of 2012.
This novel grabbed my attention from the beginning. Truman Wiley, a jobless professional reporter, addicted to gambling, faces a mountain of bills--some because of his seriously ill son, who desperately needs a heart transplant. His marriage and his relationships are in shreds.
Truman has one chance to make a turn-around. He can write the story of a condemned killer who is willing to offer his heart to Truman's son. Truman digs for the truth, and wrestles with releasing it.
I found this intricate plot compelling. Reading Group questions included.
Thank you to FirstWildCard and Audra Jennings, The B&B Media Group for my review copy.
Truman Wiley is a World famous reporter. He is down on his luck by his own doing, his demon is gambling. He is at this point having his home repossessed and his car is soon to follow. Also his life is on the line due to the loan shark. He ends up going home to his wife and family. They consist of his wife Ellen, College daughter Abigail, and extremely ill son Aiden. Once home his wife wants to have him find the Lord, who has helped her so much. She also knows he has talent and asks him to help her friend Oleta write her husband Terrelle's story. He is on death row for a murder of a young woman, and claims he is at peace to die for the crime, even though he says he didn't do it! He wants to donate his heart to Aiden. Oleta gives him $15,000, which the family desperately needs, and what does he do...you know it! You want to shake him, and he goes and tells you exactly what you are thinking. You have to wonder if Truman, and now with Abby's help, will be able to write the book. Will Aiden get a heart, and will it be Terrelle's? I personally did know a "Truman", he couldn't stay away from the local Casino, and lost all the money he owed people from his business. He ended up in a Federal Prison. So very sad. His demon hurt a lot of people. After he got out of prison he tragically died on a misdiagnosed aliment. A really well written page turner, I highly recommend this great read!
I received this book from First Wild Card Tours, and the Publisher Tyndale House, and was not required to give a positive review.
Truman is trying to hide away from the world in his cottage by the sea, when a phone call lures him from his retreat and back to the land of hospital bills, a dying son, an estranged wife, and very real threats from dangerous criminals seeking to collect their debt by any means necessary. Truman was once a successful journalist who has lost his job, and his life seems to be falling apart when his wife connects him to a man on death row who wants him to write a book about his life and the police case that resulted in his conviction and sentence to await the death penalty. Truman's decision to accept the job leads him down a path not only to uncovering the truth of a crime, but one of self-discovery as well.
I loved the first sentence of this book, when Chris Fabry writes "The trouble with my wife began when she needed Jesus and I needed a cat". I instantly knew I was going to be treated to a book with characters who had a good sense of humor and who would star in an engaging book, and I turned out to be right! Fabry's writing seems effortless and is truly a joy to read for the sheer manner in which it is written. He excels at his characterization, and brings Truman to life with his sarcastic humor, his tendency to avoid his responsibilities (something we can all relate to on occasion), his addiction to gambling, all wrapped up in a well-meaning heart.
I must admit that this strong characterization actually turned out to be a problem for me in this case. Fabry's writing is so solid that he elicited strong feelings from me, particularly disgust at some of Truman's actions, and the end result is that as much as I tried, I never really grew to like Truman all that much, and agreed with his family that he certainly was a poor example of a husband and a father. Although the story ends with an act of selflessness and in a manner that seeks to redeem him as a character, I just never could connect with Truman as a person. That said, I know a writer has succeeded at bringing a story to life when I can get that worked up about a story! The story is still entertaining and a worthy read, one that lives up to Fabry's excellent reputation. I just didn't enjoy it as much as his previous books Almost Heaven or June Bug.
As I was reading this book, I considered who is the "Truman" in my own life, someone who has struggled with addiction issues themselves and for whom my heart has broken in prayer. Although I won't share his name, there is someone who is close to my family who struggled with addiction to cocaine for many years, until God broke through and set him free. The road to freedom was long, with many stops and starts, but this person has lived addiction free for over two years. Much like in Truman's life, God did the impossible, reminding me that "nothing is impossible for God!". If you have someone in your life who isn't being the husband or father or wife or mother or sister or brother that they could be, someone caught up in a cycle of addiction, don't give up hope but cling to God in prayer. God is listening!
Overall, I give this book a solid recommendation and give it 4 out of 5 stars.
Book provided courtesy of the publisher, B&B Media, and FIRST Wildcard tours for the purposes of this unbiased 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.