Review: The Promise of Jesse Woods



promise of jesse

I was so excited about “The Promise of Jesse Woods,” as soon as I saw the cover and description and after finishing it, I was not disappointed! Chris Fabry’s latest novel is the story of Matt, Jesse, and Dickie.  In 1972, Matt’s family returns to Dogwood, W.V. where his father is returning to be a preacher at a church. Matt is a chubby 14-year-old and quickly befriends Jesse and Dickie. Jesse is a girl from the wrong side of the tracks living in a rundown home with her ill mother and her little sister Daisy Grace. Dickie is the son of an African-American father that’s been drafted to Vietnam and a Caucasian mother, with whom he lives in a garage apartment. Jesse and Dickie are basically social outcasts – Jesse because of her family and upbringing, and Dickie because of his race. Matt’s mother and grandmother try to discourage Matt from being friends with Jesse and Dickie, while his Dad is a bit more forgiving and understanding, but they become his best friends regardless. Matt and Jesse’s bond continues to strengthen as they share secrets and also fall in love, but repeated hardships and tragedies occur, eventually severing their bonds of friendship. Twelve years later and living in Chicago, Matt learns that Jesse is marrying a cruel bully from their past, prompting a return trip home to West Virginia. What begins as an attempt to stop Jesse’s wedding, results in an amazing journey of discovery about their past.

I’m not sure where to being with this book but I absolutely loved it. I can’t touch on everything that I would like because it would take days to write it all, and probably result in some spoilers. “The Promise of Jesse Woods,” is such a complex, moving and emotional novel. This is one of those books that will evoke countless emotions while reading. One minute you will laugh, then you will get angry, then you will want to cry. Chris Fabry has created characters that you will not soon forget, if ever. Matt is such a sweet young man, trying to bring out the best in others and do the right thing, all while being an amazing committed friend. Dickie is also a great character, trying to not take things too seriously regarding his mixed ethnicity and how is treated. Jesse is the start of this novel, surviving things that most of us could never imagine having to endure. The best way to describe Jesse is that she was dealt a horrible hand when brought into the world, but constantly fights to survive and take care of her little sister. The physical, emotional, and sexual abuse that Jesse endured would destroy most people, if not physically, then emotionally. Jesse, however, displayed devotion to her friends, mother, and sister at every opportunity.

Fabry’s plot, characters, and writing style combine into a mind-blowing novel that will grip you from the first page to the last. From the dialect used to the descriptions of the people and places, the author almost tricks you into feeling that you are there in the story. Plan to fall in love with this story, and take your own trip down memory lane about your best friends when you were young.

Visit Chris Fabry’s web page to learn more about the author.

*Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Tynedale Blog Network in exchange for an honest review.



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