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Not in the Heart by Chris Fabry

Not in the Heart

by Chris Fabry

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Every so often, a book comes along that grabs you and won't let go. Not in the Heart is one such book. I read it quickly, and when I wasn't reading it, I was thinking about it. From the beginning, I assumed Terrelle (the death row inmate) was innocent, and as Truman came closer to the truth, I felt like I was searching for clues right along with him. And once I reached the epilogue, I read the sad-but-satisfying conclusion with tears running down my cheeks.

Truman Wiley is not your classic protagonist. An unemployed gambling addict who abandoned his family, he is certainly no hero—and he does things throughout the book that made me want to shake some sense into him. However, I found myself pulling for him, not in a "boy, he sure needs Jesus to fix his life" way but in an "I care about him so much that I wish he could see how much God loves him and get his life back together" way.

As I read the book, I thought a lot about Truman. We all know someone like him—someone whose addictions and fears control his or her life; someone we would desperately love to see trust in Christ. While no one close to me is a Truman, I do have friends and family members who have spent hours on their knees praying for their own Trumans. Reading this book reminded me again of the importance of prayer—praying for the Trumans who seem unreachable ... because no one is unreachable to God!

Rarely have I been so emotionally invested in a book that it brings me to tears. Not in the Heart is a fantastic book that I highly recommend with 5 out of 5 stars!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free for review from The B&B Media Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. ( )
  beckybeanne | Mar 5, 2012 |

Compulsive physiological and psychological need for a habit-forming substance: a drug used in the treatment of heroin addiction.
The condition of being habitually or compulsively occupied with or involved in something.

That was me once upon a time. Addicted to cutting. Addicted to self-pity. Addicted to laxatives, diuretics, and fat trappers. Addicted to losing weight. Addicted to occasional binges.

May 22, 2002 and God set me free when I laid it all down at a revival service. Fully and completely laid it down. The following night I brought my pills and my razor blades and put those on the altar at the front of the church and walked away, never to return.

The battles have come. Even ten years later, I get this horrible compulsion to purge. Even worse, the compulsion to cut will take over my mind.

But God is bigger than the compulsion. He is bigger than the battle. And I have walked in victory for almost a decade now with--praise Him--no relapses.

Not in the Heart by Chris Fabry deals with addiction. A gambling addiction and how it destroys families.

For those who have never been addicted it's difficult to relate to Truman Wily. "Just don't do it" is the common thought. The common counsel. It's not that easy and Chris Fabry portrays it realistically. Though I have to say, he only touches the tip of the iceberg of emotional angst and struggle that precedes the addictive behavior and the guilt that follows. He could have devoted more paragraphs to that part of the struggle and still not have fully portrayed all that it entails.

The story is told from Truman's perspective in the beginning but then switches from first person to third person. I'm not sure I like the switch back and forth like that but Chris does make it work due to his skill as a writer.

Truman gripped my heart. His wife seemed weak however. An enabler who continues to accept Truman's behavior and not really take him to task for the havoc he has wreaked on the family. Eager for him to love her more than for him to be the godly husband and father he should be. I would have liked to have seen her have stronger boundaries with her addicted husband.

The plot line of a condemned criminal on death row and the need for a heart for Truman's son is intriguing. It opens a political and ethical can of worms and Chris dealt with it in a great way.

As far as the book's resolution, it threw me for a loop in not one, but two ways, and I always have been a big fan of big loop endings. Because of this, as well as the topics presented such as addiction, the death penalty, and organ donation from death row inmates, even despite the weak wife and change up in voice perspective, it causes me to give Not in the Heart a 4 out of 5 rating.
  hiddenvalley713 | Feb 29, 2012 |
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.
  xnfictionaddict | Feb 21, 2012 |
Truman Wiley always ran away at the first sign of trouble. It is why he was estranged from his family, riddled with debt and in trouble with loan sharks. He was a man who spent his life wrapped up in his job, so when he lost his job due to the economy he was completely lost and hopeless. Add to that the compulsive gambling and the huge debt he owed to a man of questionable character and you have a man who is willing to do anything.

Truman’s son needs a heart transplant soon or he will die. Terrelle Conley is on death row for a murder he says he didn’t commit, but he is willing to donate his heart to Truman’s son because he feels it’s the only thing he can do to bring good out of a bad situation. In return, Truman must write Terrelle’s story and uncovers disturbing evidence that may lead to the real killer. Should an innocent man be allowed to die so that his son can live? Should Truman tell the truth and let his son die?

Choices—small ones, big ones, life-changing ones—we make them every day. But what happens when your choice involves an ethical dilemma? What if it also involves someone you care about? What if you have failed at everything and finally have an opportunity to set things right? What if doing the wrong thing gives you a second chance to do the right thing?

These questions and more will surface as you read Chris Fabry’s book “Not In The Heart.” It is difficult to read Fabry’s book without facing your own beliefs. It’s easy to be frustrated with Truman. He’s an addict who can’t control his addiction. He gambles away his life savings and continually puts his addiction ahead of his family’s needs even in the midst of pending tragedy.

We are forced to look into our own heart, face our mistakes and weaknesses and see our own need for redemption. Can Truman find his? Will he make the right choice? Is there a right decision in the midst of this jumbled up life he’s created for himself and his family? Does God really have a way out?

From the first chapter to the last, you will be engaged with this story. This hard-to-put-down book will leave you guessing until the very end.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from The B&B Media Group, Inc., as part of their Book Review Blogger Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” ( )
  JillpJones | Feb 7, 2012 |
Not In The Heart by Chris Fabry is an amazing story that is both fast-paced and deeply touching. It’s a compelling story of a man wishing he could somehow make amends for all the damage he has done to his family, but he can’t seem to bring himself to change.

Truman Wiley was a well-known reporter who traveled the world capturing all kinds of news stories. The problem is that he did most of that while his kids were growing up without him and his wife was home alone raising the children while he was traipsing all over the world chasing stories. Now his children are young adults and he can’t go back and change the kind of father he was. His marriage may be beyond repair. He has a gambling addiction that he still hasn’t conquered. But, worst of all, is that his son is dying and he can’t bring himself to be there for him. He has the opportunity to go back home and write a story of a convicted killer who is set to be executed and has offered to give Tru’s son his heart in order to save his life. Will coming home to write this story give him the chance to pull his family back together? What happens if he discovers evidence while working on the story that could clear the man who is supposed to die and give his heart to Tru’s son?

I very highly recommend this book! As always, Chris Fabry’s writing is simply outstanding. The story will hook you from the very first page and keeps you glued to the pages until the very end. It’s a family drama, but also so much more. There’s a lot of mystery and suspense along with some great plot twists. The characters are so realistic and they had me on an emotional roller coaster. Through much of this book I wanted to hate Truman, but I just couldn’t help but like him. I loved his humor, and I wanted so badly for him to change. I have been a huge fan of Chris Fabry’s writing for quite a while. Dogwood remains one of my all time favorites. I also loved June Bug and Almost Heaven. I am always extremely excited whenever he comes out with a new book because I know it’s going to be an exceptional read. ( )
  michellepedenvasquez | Feb 6, 2012 |
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In my experience of reading lots of books, I have found that very few fiction writers are able to write in such a way as to make their characters jump off the page and into your mind and heart. And very few are able to paint a picture with their words that shows the true condition of the human heart and the gamut of emotion that is often found there and tell a story that leaves you breathless in the end.

Chris Fabry has accomplished that in his story of Truman Wiley in Not In The Heart.

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Truman Wiley's son is dying, and the only thing that can save him is a heart transplant. All hope seems lost, until Truman learns of a death row inmate who is willing to donate his heart to Truman's son. But right before the time of execution, Truman discovers that the inmate may be innocent. For his son to live, should his innocent man die?… (more)

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