By Chris Fabry
1933: In the mining town of Beulah Mountain, West Virginia, two young girls form an unbreakable bond against the lush Appalachian landscape, coal dust and old hymns filling their lungs and hearts. Despite the polarizing forces of their fathers—one a mine owner, one a disgruntled miner —Ruby and Bean thrive under the tender care of Bean’s mama, blissfully unaware of the rising conflict in town and the coming tragedy that will tear them apart forever.
2004: Hollis Beasley is taking his last stand. Neighbors up and down the hollow have sold their land to Coleman Coal and Energy, but Hollis is determined to hold on to his family legacy on Beulah Mountain. Standing in his way is Buddy Coleman, an upstart mining executive who hopes to revitalize the dying town by increasing coal production and opening the Company Store Museum. He’ll pay homage to the past—even the massacre of 1933—while positioning the company for growth at all costs.
What surprises them all is how their stories will intersect with a feisty octogenarian living hundreds of miles away. When Ruby Handley Freeman’s grown children threaten her independence, she takes a stand of her own and disappears, propelling her on a journey to face a decades-old secret that will change everything for her and those she meets.
(Back cover summary from Tyndale)
I’m going to be honest and admit something.
I have never read a Chris Fabry adult novel (disclaimer: I have read some of his children’s books). Never.
I know, crazy, huh? He’s won some big awards in the Christian Fiction business, but I’ve never got around to reading his books. I’m more of a romance girl. After attending a Christian writer’s conference in Nashville and hearing him speak, I knew I needed to give it a try. So I volunteered to read and review Under a Cloudless Sky and was blown away.
This story is all about forgiveness, redemption, and grace. It’s about fighting for the truth, for what really matters. It’s about the struggle of everyday life, when circumstances hurt, when family falls apart, when life doesn’t make sense. It’s about turning to God in the hard times and giving life to Him.
This novel has been compared to the popular memoir Hillbilly Elegy. Having had the privilege to spend some time in the Appalachian Mountain area, I was attracted to this type of story. It’s noble, beautiful, and compelling, and it shows what a wonderful area it is.
The story slowly unwinds, and at first, I had no idea how it all worked together. It didn’t make sense in my brain. It’s split between Ruby’s life modernly, and her past. But as the two develop, it all begins to make sense. I smiled at points and blinked back tears at others, especially at the end. This story is a poignant tale and it resonates with my heart. It has twists that are shocking, but as I thought over the story, it all made sense!
Under a Cloudless Sky is a novel that I’ll keep for a long time and one that will leave me thinking for just as long. It’s a must-read, even if you’re like me and rarely deviate from anything that doesn’t involve romance. It’s beauty and grit, loss and restoration, all wrapped up in one.
About the Author
Chris Fabry is an award-winning author and radio personality who hosts the daily program Chris Fabry Live on Moody Radio. He is also heard on Love Worth Finding, Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, and other radio programs. A 1982 graduate of the W. Page Pitt School of Journalism at Marshall University and a native of West Virginia, Chris and his wife, Andrea, now live in Arizona and are the parents of nine children.
Chris’s novels, which include Dogwood, June Bug, Almost Heaven, and The Promise of Jesse Woods, have won three Christy Awards, an ECPA Christian Book Award, and a 2017 Award of Merit from Christianity Today. His eightieth published book, Under a Cloudless Sky, is a novel set in the coalfields of his home state of West Virginia. His books include movie novelizations, like the recent bestseller War Room; nonfiction; and novels for children and young adults. He coauthored the Left Behind: The Kids series with Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye, as well as the Red Rock Mysteries and the Wormling series with Jerry B. Jenkins. Visit his website at www.chrisfabry.com .
(Biography from Tyndale)
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.