The Promise of Jesse Woods follows the lives of three best friends from the time they meet at thirteen. Matt Plumey's family moves to Dogwood, West Virginia in the summer of 1972. That summer proved to be the most pivotal of his life. The day he moves to Dogwood, Matt meets Jesse and Dickie. Throughout the summer, the three of them, plus Jesse's little sister, Daisy, spend their days exploring the hills of their little town.
When Jesse's family experiences great trials, Matt promises to help Jesse and keep the problems a secret, even though he really wants to ask an adult for help. Shortly into the school year, everything falls a part, and Matt is left without the companionship of his best friends. He regrets his decisions, and wonders how long Jesse will blame him for what happened.
Twelve years later, Dickie calls to let Matt know that Jesse is getting married, and Matt immediately packs up and drives from his home in Chicago to Dogwood. He remembers a promise that Jesse had made, and he knows that she never breaks her promises. Matt shows up in Dogwood determined to find out if Jesse truly loves her fiance, and he isn't shy about hiding his feelings toward her. Will Jesse remember the promise she made Matt in the summer of 1972?
Fabry writes The Promise of Jesse Woods by alternating past and present. A good bit of the story is told through the events of the summer and fall of 1972, which is how readers are able to understand Matt's feelings as he seeks out Jesse in 1984. A lot of the story is revealed through foreshadowing. Small bits of the big picture are revealed at a time, which makes for a highly addictive book because readers simply won't want to put it down. The story is one of sweet, innocent love that faces more trials than any fourteen year olds could bear, which in turn leads to Matt as an adult wondering how things could have turned out differently.
Fabry skillfully weaves in conversations about God through the characters asking tough questions, such as "Why does God let bad things happen?" The importance of a true relationship with God is demonstrated by some of the characters' actions. Through telling the story of the childhood of three kids, Fabry intertwines gospel conversations and reveals why leaning on God is the only way to move past regret. Overall, The Promise of Jesse Woods is definitely a story worth diving into.
The Promise of Jesse Woods comes out July 1st. It is currently available for preorder.
I received a copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for this honest review.