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Book Review: Almost Heaven by Chris Fabry

Author's site:
http://www.chrisfabry.com/
and
http://chrisfabry.blogspot.com/

Link for the book @ publisher:
http://www.tyndale.com/Almost-Heaven/9781414319575
Paperback $13.99

Link for the book @ Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/Almost-Heaven-Chris-Fabry/dp/1414319576/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1287069946&sr=8-2
Paperback $10.07
Kindle $9.57

My paperback copy was bought @ LifeWay Christian Bookstore for $13.99--on sale now for $11.19
http://www.lifewaystores.com/lwstore/product.asp?isbn=1414319576&mscssid=3T9E7EARTXWV8KWX26QUD5EBPEQM7MC1

This book was purchased by me for reading/reviewing.

Published by Tyndale House, 2010, 400 pages
Christian Fiction/Southern Story/Music/Suspense



This is the 3rd book I've read from Chris Fabry. His previous novels are Dogwood and June Bug both published by Tyndale House.
To read my reviews of these books:
http://awell-wateredgarden.blogspot.com/2009/10/review-dogwood.html
and
http://awell-wateredgarden.blogspot.com/2009/10/review-june-bug.html

I finished reading Almost Heaven last night about midnight. After I finished reading the book I laid the book in my lap and then I took a deep breathe. 
There are some books that you read in order to escape into a light-hearted world.
There are some books that you read in order to educate your mind.
There are some books that you read in order to understand other people and cultures.
Then, there are some books that take you on a journey, and afterwards you know you will never be the same again.

Billy Allman of Dogwood, West Virginia is a middle aged man, an average looking guy, a bit non-social; but he has a loving and sincere heart. His reputation in his hollow of Dogwood is of deep honor and respect. There is music in Billy's soul, and the mandolin is the instrument that is the tool that reaches the hearts of others. Billy has another talent, electronics-specifically radio's.
Malachi is Billy's remarkable angel. Billy's life may have seemed an "a minor" to most people; but Billy is significant, valuable to God.

To say that I love this book would be an underestimate of my feelings, and I feel ill prepared in knowing how to express the depth of how this book has affected me. There are some life experiences that Billy went through that I fully understand, I've been there. I understand the crushing pain that he felt, it is a pain that you have to remind yourself to take a breathe. I understand about holding on to moments that are so precious, but you can't, and you know that this is it, there will be no more.

I love stories from the south. I understand their language, their colloquialisms, their culture. These are my people, my home-land.

Billy is not a Romeo heart throb type character; I wish there were more characters in books such as Billy. Billy is exactly who he is, average looking---which is most of us. Yet, he is a rare individual that surrenders his life to what he feels called to do. Most humans live life on their terms (at least they try). Happiness and success is number 1. But, what is really the definition of success? Is it your bank account balance? Or what your scale says that you weigh? Or maybe how large your house is? Then again, maybe success is not any of those things at all. Billy teaches us in his story what the definition of success is, and it is a story that will echo around in the walls of your heart clanging and banging, till it settles and you finally understand.
Malachi I found fascinating in his observation of humans. His role is to observe and protect Billy; yet he observes other people in Billy's life. I did not find anything in this fictional account of an angel that goes against Scripture. There is much that we do not know about angels. We do know that they are messengers and obey God fully. Malachi states that he is a "warrior not a scribe" and that he "gladly fulfills his role."
When the book writes from Malachi's thoughts and role the print is in bold lettering. The reader is introduced early in the story to Malachi.
Almost Heaven follows the life of Billy Allman from childhood to middle age. We hear his voice and Malachi's voice.
Almost Heaven is a brave book in that it tackles issues that are too absent from Christian literature. Some would call it edgy, I call it unfeigned-honest-stark life. Almost Heaven is fictional; yet there are elements of non-fiction work, mainly in that it is a teaching story, a cathartic story, and I feel could be of help for others. 
Be prepared for stories with-in stories, for moments of pause and reflect, for tears.

Two of my favorite quotes:
"I believe every life has hidden songs that hang by twin threads of music and memory. I believe in the songs that have never been played for another soul. I believe they run between the rocks and along the creek beds of our lives. These are songs that cannot be heard by anything but the soul. They sometimes run dry or spill over the banks until we find ourselves wading through them."

"Sometimes love looks a lot different than we think it should."

I predict and I've never done this before; but I believe that this book will win book awards for 2010.

Blissful Reading!
Annette

Comments

Wow, this sounds fantastic, Annette. Sounds like it has lots of depth to it. I'm reading this for a tour and really looking forward to it :).
Renee Ann said…
I almost didn't read this because a copy of the book is on its way to me. Now I'm even more excited to get it and dig in!