Friday, November 29, 2013

Book Review: Not In the Heart

Not In The Heart. Chris Fabry. 2012. Tyndale. 432 pages. [Source: Book I Bought]

I did not love Not In The Heart. Not in the same way I loved, loved, loved Almost Heaven. But comparing the two perhaps is unfair.

Truman, the narrator of Not In The Heart, is down on his luck. He's let his addiction to gambling destroy his life. He's consistently made the wrong decisions in his life for years now. He isn't only hurting himself, however. He has a wife who loves him despite his problems, despite their current separation. He also has two children: a nearly-grown-up daughter, Abby, and her younger brother, Aidan, who is dying. Does Truman see his family often? Does he help support his family? The answer, as you might have guessed, is no. Truman is selfish. For example, he knows that his son wants to see him; he knows that his son would love for him to come by the hospital and spend some time together. And Aidan's the type of kid who doesn't ask for much. But Truman knows that going to the hospital would make him feel uncomfortable, would make him feel bad. So he stays away.

So. Truman is offered an opportunity. There is a convicted murderer who is willing--even anxious--to donate his heart to Aidan. He is willing to stop his appeals, to accept his death sentence, IF he (Truman) will agree to write a book, to tell his story. The wife (supposedly) will even pay to help sweeten the deal. He agrees. But within hours of agreeing, he's lost all the money gambling. Now guilt and guilt alone will urge him forward, compel him to write the story with diligence and care. He even involves his daughter on this case. He becomes a crime-solving journalist on a tight deadline. If he uncovers the innocence of the man, if he finds enough to prove it, will he do the right thing even if it means his son dies?

Not In the Heart is very much focused on solving a crime, on uncovering clues, of following dangerous leads, of taking big risks, of following instincts and putting all the little details together in just the right way. It is an intense thriller. And plenty of broken things need to be pieced together in this novel. I like the humanity of the characters. I like the messiness, the brokenness just fine. I like the struggle, the efforts. It's not like Truman's second chance is going to automatically cure him of selfishness and stubbornness. It's not like he's going to suddenly become a great father now that there is a small chance his son will survive. That being said, I feel the novel is a bit too manipulative. The ending is extremely predictable. One could almost guess the outcome just from reading the title alone. Or at least I thought so.

I think for readers looking for an intense, contemporary thriller with plenty of action and danger, this one would be a good fit. For readers who are looking for a quirky, feel-good novel, this one isn't a good match.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

1 comment:

Jessica Snell said...

It sounds like you really didn't like the protagonist - understandably! It's so hard to get into a book when you don't like the main character. Or at least, it is for me.