Reviewed by Julia M. Reffner
Not in the Heart by Chris Fabry
"Great Christian novels are more than a story, they leave the reader pondering the state of his or her own heart. Not in the Heart demonstrates God’s power to transform the seemingly untransformable."
A former reporter who once travelled around the world chasing the most exciting headlines, Truman Wiley is living a heartbroken existence. Years of putting his career first, an addiction to the “high” of gambling, and heedless neglect have brought his marriage to the brink of destruction. Most devastating of all, his son lies sick in a hospital bed waiting for a heart to become available.
Suddenly, breakthrough occurs. A death row inmate imprisoned for murder desires to donate his heart to Truman’s son. Jobless Truman is offered the story of a lifetime. He will write Terrelle’s story. Truman could use the money, although he isn’t crazy about the story Terrelle is angling to tell. Terrelle wants to focus on the transforming life of faith he has discovered in prison, rather than the crime itself.
Truman’s story becomes a conflict of interest when he discovers disturbing evidence. It is a battle between integrity and the life of his beloved son. When the life of an innocent man may be at stake, Truman’s entire life comes to the crossroads. The decision he makes will affect every aspect of his life.
Fabry is a master at bringing the reader into the main character’s point of view. I didn’t expect to care so deeply about Truman, a man who had gambled away his family and rejected the faith that his wife and son hold dear. Yet I found myself rooting for Truman, for his marriage, for his salvation, and for him to gain freedom from gambling and other bondages that held him captive.
In Not in the Heart, Fabry uses multiple points of view. Most scenes were written in first person in Truman’s perspective, a few were written in third person perspective from his wife Ellen or his daughter’s perspective. Although I enjoyed all of the chapters I found myself most strongly drawn into Truman’s point of view and preferred the use of first person here.
Not in the Heart has at its core not just the physical heart issues of Truman’s son, but most powerfully the emotional and spiritual issues of the heart. Truman’s heart is clogged by not dealing with the issues that plague his marriage, his relationship with his children, and his own heart. Instead he plunges himself into the world of career, the excitement of being the first to find a world-changing story. In this case spending time on the story about the man offering a heart to his son, yet at the same time avoiding dealing with the grieving process. His wrong choices come close to gambling away his marriage, while he finds numb comfort at the casinos. God unpeels the layers of Truman’s heart slowly, demonstrating the often stubborn nature of our hearts in responding to God’s truth. Yet this book also demonstrates God’s kindness that leads to repentance, his everlasting patience with each of us.
Great Christian novels are more
than a story, they leave the reader pondering the state of his or her
own heart. Not in the Heart demonstrates God’s
power to transform the seemingly untransformable. Most of all, it points
us to the one man’s death on a Cross that holds that power to change
each of our hearts.
Julia M. Reffner is blessed to be a servant to the King, married to the love of her life, a busy homeschool mom of two young children, and owned by one shedding longhaired cat. She is enjoying working on a women’s fiction novel in her spare time. She is a reviewer for Historical Novels Review quarterly, a magazine of the Historical Novel Society. Julia can be found blogging about God, literature and life at Dark Glass Ponderings and about writing at the group blog, The Writer's Alley.