Friday, January 20, 2012

Not in the Heart by Chris Fabry

Truman is the kind of hero you love to hate. As the novel opens, he has abandoned his family. He had been a star reporter, traveling the world, but when the media company had to downsize, he was let go. Lost, he runs from his responsibilities. He buys a cottage on the Florida coast and lives there with his cat.
Addicted to gambling, Truman has amassed huge debts, some to a loan shark bent on getting his money back or make Truman pay with his life. When the typical car with darkened windows and thugs inside shows up,Truman abandons the small house and flees (he's behind on the mortgage anyway).
As he returns to his family, we find that their son needs a heart transplant and has been deathly ill for some time. Our “hero” has let his wife deal with their ailing son, for months. He can't even get up the nerve to go to the hospital room – it's just too much for him. His daughter has had to quit college as Truman has lost the potential finances – at a casino.
While Truman's wife is a Christian, Truman believes, “Religion has always seemed an opiate to me, something to numb a person to reality.”
The plot of the novel ramps up as we find out that there may be a heart for Truman's son. It is the heart of a convicted murderer. But there are some who think the convict may be innocent. The convict's wife hires Truman to write his story and Truman thinks he might be able to find the real murderer in the process.

I had difficulty reading this novel. If I hadn't agreed to blog a review, I would have probably quit around half way through. Truman is truly a “hero” I loved to hate. Fabry really played up his sorry personality, addicted to gambling, abandoning his family in the time of need, extremely critical of Christianity, weak, indecisive, on and on. I knew there had to be some redeeming factor and was glad to see it about ten pages from the end. By then, I felt like I had been in church, having heard one of those disturbing testimonies. You know, a testimony where someone talks for ten minutes about their sinful life and then, at the end, says he got saved.
For me, this was a depressing novel. So much of it was Truman's negative thoughts, his pitiful inadequacies. I just got tired of it.
And I got tired of Truman. For a man who had gotten many awards for his heroic investigative reporting, he is a pathetic man. He acts without thinking. He is weak and lacks self-control. He treats his family horribly. I would have preferred Truman to be a man of character, even if he was not a Christian. In the end, Truman does show some nerve but it was too little too late to make up for the 400 pages of depressing reading.
This is definitely a novel for men. Perhaps they can identify with Truman's sorry character. As a woman, I just found it too frustrating.
Fabry has dedicated this book, “For the addicted and those who love them.” For the addicted, Fabry's book portrays no hope. Truman is still a gambling addict at the end of the book. He has not managed to conquer it. There may be a little encouragement for for those who love addicts, but it is just a glimmer.
For me, there were also some problems with the book's plot. With Truman not working for months and using up nearly all their money, what are his wife and son living on? She hasn't been working as she is caring for the hospitalized son.
And Truman's family must be left with huge debts, including the hospital bills. While the Epilogue is upbeat, the family certainly cannot live “happily ever after.”
All in all, I was disappointed in this novel.

Chris Fabry is a 1982 graduate of the W. Page Pitt School of Journalism at Marshall University. He is heard on Moody Radio. He and his wife, Andrea, have nine children. Chris has published more than seventy books for adults and children. He won the Christy Award in 2009 and the Christy Award and the ECPA award for fiction in 2011. See more about him at www.chrisfabry.com.

Tyndale House Publishers, 432 pages.  Publisher product information.

I received an egalley from Tyndale House Publishers for the purpose of this review.
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