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11.09.2010

New Book by Chris Fabry

Book Review - Almost Heaven

This was the first book by Chris Fabry that I’ve ever read, although I’ve been familiar with his work with Focus on the Family and with the Left Behind kids series. I really enjoyed the book.

Almost Heaven
is the story of Billy Allman, a man with a big heart and a small ego. The world needs more Billy Allman’s. The story takes place in West Virginia, and Fabry does a great job of setting the scene. Although I’m from the Midwest, the story transported me to the hills and I felt like I was right there hearing Billy’s mandolin and driving the dirt roads. Billy is certainly eccentric and he’s seen his share of heartache. But this is a story of redemption and of how God heals old wounds. God used Billy in a big way to touch the lives of many people, but Billy doesn’t seem to realize just how much he is appreciated. Almost Heaven  is a fictionalized story based on the real life of a man named Billy Allman who had a radio station in West Virginia.

I’m inspired by this story in that it shows how God uses people who others might cast aside to accomplish that He wants to accomplish. It’s humbling. I’m also moved by the depth of hurt that so many people carry buried deep inside. I think many who have been abused in their past will find hope and healing in the stories of the characters in this book.

Chris Fabry knows how to weave a story that draws in a reader with just the right balance of drama, description, and emotion. The one thing that I didn’t like quite as much about this book was the dual story. Let me explain. Most chapters in the story are told first person by Billy. But interspersed are chapters written from the first person view of Malachi, Billy’s guardian angel. A change in font distinguishes the point of view of each of these characters. I thought that Malachi’s story actually interrupted Billy’s story too much. I’d have enjoyed the book just as much, if not more, without Malachi’s story.

The chapters written from Malachi’s point of view were flat and the description was more telling than showing. Whereas, the chapters written from Billy’s perspective shone. It didn’t matter to me that Malachi intervened sometimes. I could have lived with simply knowing that Billy sensed something supernatural took over that he couldn’t explain. I give this book four stars despite my disappointment with the parts about the angel. I give the main story a 5 and the sub-story a 3, so I’ll average them. I also issue the disclaimer that some parts of the story are too mature for young readers because they tackle sensitive issues.

The end of the book contains a sample chapter from another book, and I found it so intriguing that I can’t wait to read it. It spins off Billy’s story and focuses on another character from this book.


Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publicist, Glass Road PR, for review purposes. I was not obligated to write a favorable review and my review is both objective and honest.

About the Author
Chris Fabry and his wife Andrea are the parents of nine children. Chris says:
"I'm also a writer. I began writing early in my life, but I didn't come back to this until much later. I've published more than 60 books since 1995, many of them fiction for younger readers. I collaborated with Jerry B. Jenkins and Dr. Tim LaHaye on the children's series Left Behind: The Kids. My two novels for adults, Dogwood and June Bug, are published by Tyndale House Publishers. Dogwood received the 2009 Christy Award in the Contemporary Standalone category."

See the rest of Chris's personal story on his website, www.chrisfabry.com .

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