If you grew up in the country or anywhere in small town America, there’s a good chance that you remember chasing fireflies on summer evenings, wading in creeks or ponds where minnows swim, or riding your bike on quiet country roads. In The Promise of Jesse Woods, Chris Fabry takes readers back to similar times when children roamed rural roads and dropped by the local store in search of treats. Fabry’s book transports readers to rural Dogwood, West Virginia where Matt Plumley, the son of Dogwood’s new preacher, has landed. It is there, in the summer of 1972, that Matt becomes friends with Jesse and Dickie. Those friendships leave Matt changed, and the promise Jesse Woods makes to him helps lead him back to Dogwood years later.
The Promise of Jesse Woods is a book that shows that it is often the people whom we might ignore or choose not to associate with that need love, kindness, and help the most. It is through those friendships that we can become better, we can be changed. Befriending Jesse Woods who has faced abuse, loss, and poverty, young Matt Plumley forges perhaps one of the most significant friendships of his life, one that brings out the best in him and spurs him on to sacrificial acts of kindness and bravery. If you need to be reminded to love the outcast and poor as Jesus loves them, then The Promise of Jesse Woods is a narrative from which to learn.
Fabry doesn’t shy away from the dark side of what can happen when someone is hurt and abandoned by those who ought to be nearest to them. He points to the reality of the fallen world but also shows the hope that can be found even when our world is broken: We can be loved even when abandoned by those who should show us love.
Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of The Promise of Jesse Woods in exchange for my review.