The Promise of Jesse Woods  -     By: Chris Fabry
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The Promise of Jesse Woods

Tyndale House / 2016 / Paperback

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Product Description

In the summer of 1972, Matt Plumley forms a friendship with Jesse Woods, a tough-as-nails girl. But one night the wrath of the prominent Blackwoods and the secrets of Jesse's family collide---and destroy the promise she and Matt make to each other. Will he ever learn the truth behind the only pledge Jesse ever broke? 400 pages, softcover from Tyndale.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 400
Vendor: Tyndale House
Publication Date: 2016
Dimensions: 8.25 X 5.50 (inches)
ISBN: 1414387776
ISBN-13: 9781414387772

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Publisher's Description

The summer of 1972 was the most pivotal of Matt Plumley’s childhood. While his beloved Pirates battle for back-to-back World Series titles, Matt’s family moves from Pittsburgh to Dogwood, West Virginia, where his father steps into the pulpit of a church under the thumb of town leader Basil Blackwood. A fish out of water, Matt is relieved to forge a fast bond with two unlikely friends: Dickie Darrel Lee Hancock, a mixed-race boy, and Jesse Woods, a tough-as-nails girl with a sister on her hip and no dad in sight.

As the trio traipses the hills and hollers, Matt begins to fall for Jesse, and their promises to each other draw him deeper into her terrifying reality. One night, the wrath of the Blackwoods and the secrets of Jesse’s family collide, and Matt joins Jesse in a rescue that saves one life and ends another . . . and severs the bond of their friendship.

Years later, Matt is pulled back to Dogwood and to memories of that momentous summer by news of Jesse’s upcoming wedding. He could never shake the feeling that there was more to the story of that fateful night, and he’s determined to learn the truth behind the only promise Jesse Woods ever broke.

Editorial Reviews

In The Promise of Jesse Woods, a soul-searching novel of faith, friendship and promises, Chris Fabry (War Room) invigorates the small-town lives of three teens in 1970s West Virginia with his exquisite, lyrical writing. Matt Plumley turns 14 shortly after moving to Dogwood, where his father is taking over the parsonage of the local Baptist church. The overweight boy finds acceptance in two of the town’s outcasts—Dickie, a mixed-race boy, and Jesse, a dirt-poor tomboy. Despite his parents’ objections, Matt spends all his time with his new friends, cementing their bonds.

During their adolescent escapades in the summer of 1972, Matt falls in love with Jesse. He confides in her and she in him, pledging to keep each other’s secrets always. But when Jesse’s secrets build to a crescendo, the trio’s friendship comes crashing down, leaving Matt devastated and alone.

A decade later, living in Chicago, he learns Jesse is engaged to be married. He heads back to Dogwood in search of closure, especially for why Jesse broke her most important promise to him. But this encore may be more than Matt bargained for.

The Promise of Jesse Woods is a literary delight. Fabry’s young characters are dynamically depicted in their language and attitudes; their richness drips into every other element of the novel. Fabry’s gift with suspense is on display, even in his recounting of a Reds-Pirates baseball game. This novel is worthy of a standing ovation. Bravo!

Discover: A young man returns to his childhood home in West Virginia to confront lingering questions from the pivotal summer of 1972.
Christy Award–winner Fabry (Every Waking Moment, 2013) presents an unlikely trio in Matt Plumley, an overweight preacher’s kid; Jesse Woods, considered “white trash” by the good people of Dogwood; and Dickie Darrel Lee Hancock, a mixed-race youth whose father is serving in Vietnam. They’re all social outcasts, bullied and discriminated against because they’re different, mostly by the town’s self-professed “Christians,” who use their religion to justify their bigotry. Told from Matt’s viewpoint, the chapters alternate between his arrival in Dogwood in 1972 and his return in 1984, when he tries to rescue Jesse from what he considers a disastrous wedding. This riveting, no-punches-pulled coming-of-age tale is reminiscent of Richard Bachman’s (Stephen King) short story, “The Body,” which was made into the movie Stand by Me.

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  1. KarenCollier.com
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    A well written and thought provoking novel.
    December 3, 2016
    Karen Collier
    KarenCollier.com
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: female
    Quality: 0
    Value: 0
    Meets Expectations: 0
    This thought-provoking coming of age novel is told from the point of view of Matt Plumley, who is a 14-year-old boy in one timeline, and a young adult in the other. Over the course of the novel, the reader is right there with adolescent Matt in the 1972 portions of the book, experiencing a life-changing summer along with him. But were also accompanying an older Matt in 1984 as he returns to his childhood home on a journey back to understand what happened that summer and whether he can fix it. The two timelines merge well to create the perfect blend of immediacy and hindsight, as the timelines build on each other on their way to the storys pivotal moment.

    Populated by quirky and memorable characters, and featuring an emotionally poignant storyline, realistic dialog and beautiful prose, this story is a keeper. Book clubs in particular will appreciate this book for the wealth of discussable topics it addresses and the excellent discussion questions included in the back of the book. But its the little unexpected and vivid details scattered throughout the book in dialog, description, and characters observations that really drew me in to the time and place and made the book stand out for me.

    This is the second book Ive read by this author (see my review of the audio edition of Not in the Heart). I have to say Ive been impressed by both books, and plan to seek out more of his work.

    Thank you to Tyndale House for providing a complimentary copy of the book for review purposes.
  2. Indiana
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: female
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    coming of age novel
    November 14, 2016
    lcjohnson1988
    Indiana
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: female
    Quality: 4
    Value: 4
    Meets Expectations: 4
    The setting is 1972 in West Virginia during the Vietnam War when the main character Matt is now living within a new area learning new unwritten societal rules. Matts dad is a pastor, but it is an elder who really runs not only the small congregation but the town as well. Matts new friends are from outside the congregation and arent looked upon nicely by local town folk. Matt has to decide who he is and who is going to be. Matt has lots of secrets entrusted to him by a girl named Jesse and many look down upon Matt because of his friendship with Jesse and a colored boy named Dickie.

    The unusual trio certainly stands against the norm of society and the local church constantly attempting to get Matt to make wiser choices in regards to friendships. What comes out of the story is how a young boy learns as a young man how to live freely by his convictions. Matt learns to be tenacious when he believes something must be done and wonders why other people sometimes act the way they do whenever Matt is with Dickie or Jesse.

    As I read, I wondered what point the author was attempting to make in the novel and I am sure there are many. I enjoyed the book as it shows how people from all backgrounds can learn to make friends by getting to know the heart of the person first. Matt didnt care about the social background of either of his friends, and I thought that was poignant too. What also shows up in the story is how people in a congregation are can make mistakes.

    I think Matts search for the truth both inside his heart and his family and friends is something that stood out to me. He knew something was being withheld and all he wanted to know was the truth. I wont spoil it by telling you what Matt discovers, but I rejoiced at the freedom he found as he learned the truth and was able to then let go and move forward in his life.
  3. 4 Stars Out Of 5
    Another Great Book from Author Fabry
    November 7, 2016
    nkwbookreviewer
    Quality: 4
    Value: 4
    Meets Expectations: 4
    The Promise of Jesse Woods by Christy award winning author Chris Fabry is a Christian novel about life in 1970's Appalachia. It is a poignant coming of age Southern novel. It is about friendships, love, secrets, and life with a minister's family. Set in the beautiful West Virginia mountains this book tells the tale of Jesse Woods and Matt Plumley. These two teenagers are somewhat misfits and as such find common ground for friendship. It is also about Dickie Hancock, a bi-racial boy, and the boys are good friends.

    Matt's father is the new minister that has just moved back to his hometown of Dogwood, making 14 year old Matt the new kid. He meets Jesse and falls for her. Something happens and Jesse starts withdrawing from her friends. Matt's love stays strong throughout all the years and he needs to find out what happened.

    This is a nostalgic tale. It is written in a time when kids could play outside until dark and ride their bicycles all over the countryside. This is a tale of innocence and secrets. It is about not understanding and enlightenment. While it is a little over 400 pages it is a quick, easy page turning read. The storyline is interesting, well planned, and researched. Dialogue is authentic and smooth.

    Author Fabry has a lovely style of writing. It picks readers up and gently sets them down in the middle of his book's setting. As I read my emotions were up and down with those of the characters. I could see and smell the things they did. I felt like I was there. He writes back and worth between 1972 and 1984 in such a way that readers are interested and not confused. There are some twists and turns provided to keep things interested. There is mystery, intrigue, romance and inspiration as well as things you just don't discuss.

    I would definitely recommend this emotionally moving book. It would be great for a book club as there are certainly things to discuss within its pages. The author has included discussion questions at the back of the book to aid groups. Those are always a plus. I rated it a 4 out of 5 stars. I was given the book by Book Fun (The Book Club Network) and this is my honest review.
  4. Phoenix, AZ
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: female
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    Innocence and Secrets
    November 1, 2016
    Jeanie
    Phoenix, AZ
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    To Jesse Woods, a promise to be honored no matter what. Thats why Matt never understood how Jesse could break the most important of those long-ago promisesThe fragile-appearing girl was the first person Matt met when his father, a pastor, moved their family to Dogwood, WV in 1972 to answer his call to the church where he had been raised. Matt and Jesse became friends while trying to untangle a beautiful horse from barbed wire it was entangled in and Jesse was the only person Matt could find who might have tools to help.

    This gripping novel begins in 1984 when Matt is called by a childhood friend from that first year in Dogwood, telling him that Jesse is getting married and to whom. In spite of the commitments he has to the children he works with in Chicago, Matt takes a few days off and drives all night, back to 1972 WV where his memories come to life again.

    Matt knows in 1972 that his life is easy compared to Jesses, especially as he keeps more of her secrets in the upcoming months. She cared for her ailing mother and little sister. Challenges he suffered, though, were how to be a preachers son in a small town where eyes of the church folk were always on him, and that his parents didnt approve of his friends Jesse, not their type of people, and Dickie, of mixed heritage. No matter how hard they tried, his parents could not split up the friendships yet they finally accepted his friendship with Dickie until Jesse let slip, in a moment of anger, one of the few secrets in Matts family.

    Matts struggles with his faith, then and in 1984, are real. Some seemed like kids stuff, but if those kids stuff challenges arent resolved they may become deeply rooted in the adult one becomes, choking out tender faith. The mystery of why Jesse stopped hanging out with Matt haunted him, and whether he allows it to change his faith may change with the truths he has to go forward with. Id love to see how he changes after 1984.

    We get to know the characters, in particular Matt and Jesse, in such great depth that I wondered what it was for the author to live so closely in their heads and hearts. They are as very real people, so skillfully and caringly developed through behaviors and dialog. Dialog between Matt and his father as adults, between Matt and Jesse as adults was affirming and gave each the choice to move ahead. In a way I felt sorry for Matts father, as in those years there was much less grace then than now, and he endured much to keep his position.

    Alternating between 1984 and 1972 is smooth and comfortable. The novel pulled me in and held me, suspended in time, with Matt and Jesse. In some ways I see this as a commentary of how we lived in those two decades; I also see how our choices have long-reaching results. Growing up about the same time as Matt, I remember many things mentioned so clearly transistor radios, Faygo, baseball. Descriptions were so vivid I could picture even those things foreign to me, such as small town West Virginia.

    The ending, not quite what I anticipated, was satisfactory. There are several spiritual lessons one can find, to each as the Lord would desire. I highly recommend it, especially to those coming of age in the 70s and fans of the authors writing.

    From a grateful heart: I was given the book by Book Fun (The Book Club Network) and here is my honest review.
  5. Illinois
    Age: Over 65
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    The Promise of Jesse Woods
    October 31, 2016
    jacquiR
    Illinois
    Age: Over 65
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    The Promise of Jesse Woods by Chris Fabry is another well-written story that engages the reader from the start. The author portrays the way people classify others as to worth according to wealth, education, looks, and raceall outward judgmental factors. Three young peopleeach different from others in his own wayform a bond and together in their younger years explore the hills and territory around Dogwood, West Virginia. One boy, an overweight preachers son; another, a poor, tough Appalachian girl; and the final one, a mixed race boy form an unlikely trio.

    The story unfolds alternately between their youth (1972) and years later (1984) when Matt, the preachers son, is drawn back to Dogwood by a startling message from Dickie Hancock about their mutual friend, Jesse Woods, the girl who had captured Matts heart years before. Matt returns to Dogwood, prompted by childhood memories and a quest to find out why Jesse has broken her promise to him. This is a very enthralling tale about two people whose fate is sealed by earlier circumstances and so-called well-meaning intentions on the part of others. Through all of the twists and conflicts, the conclusion is still a satisfying one. I highly recommend this poignant story. The Promise of Jesse Woods was given to me through TBCN in exchange for an honest review.
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