Skip to main content

(Review) The Promise of Jesse Woods by Chris Fabry

Publication Date: July 1, 2016
Publisher: Tyndale
Genre: Fiction, family secrets, coming of age story
Pages: 432
Source: Free paperback copy from Tyndale in exchange for a review.
Rating: 5 stars for excellent

Chris Fabry's website


Thirteen year old Matt Plumley and his family relocate to Dogwood, West Virginia. The year is 1972. Matt's older brother, Ben, is college age and does not live at home. Their father is a pastor. Moving from the city of Pittsburgh, to small town Dogwood is a culture shock. Matt befriends two kids his age, Dickie and Jesse. The three kids grow up together sharing hardships, secrets, and promises.
The story moves back and forth in time. When the story begins it is 1984 and Matt finds out information about his childhood friend Jesse. He decides to head back to Dogwood and confront the promises of the past.

My Thoughts:
Life is about making good choices, Matt. One after another. They pile up day after day. It's only when you look back that you can see what the choices led to. What you're able to stand on. Page 65. 
My favorite quote from The Promise of Jesse Woods is a strong and wise statement for all times.
As the story unfolds, the characters, primarily Matt, will come to understand these words.
Matt made a promise to a close friend when they were kids. However, life moved on and so did they. He ponders as an adult if he truly loved this person and if the promise still stands?
I love stories where the characters evolve and are thinkers. They ponder the choices made and the results from those choices. Another way of stating this is making peace with choices made.
I love the three kids. They are from different walks of life. Matt, a preacher's kid and a new resident in town. Dickie is bi-racial. In 1972, children of mixed race were not as accepted. Jesse grew up in poverty and abuse. The three kids together form a bond and strengthen one another. They encourage and help each other through the tough years of growing up.
Lastly, Matt as a young man is holding on to past behavior patterns. He is not moving on in romantic relationships. He also carries a certain mind-set that holds him back. Through the story he will come to understand these things.
The Promise of Jesse Woods made me think about my past and present life. The choices I've made and the affects of these choices. A story that resonates is a story that is memorable.