It's time for readers to meet Jesse Woods and her little sister, Daisy Grace. I'm hearing that this story is as deep and heartfelt as June Bug and Dogwood. It may be even deeper because of the longings of the heart it represents. In a sense, this is a love story and a mystery wrapped together in two summers—1972 and 1984.
The main character, Matt Plumley, moves to Dogwood, West Virginia, and is immediately thrust into a foreign world he doesn't understand. With the help of two friends, he navigates his way into the hills—and falls for an Appalachian girl.
It's a simple story of some simple people who are just trying to love their way through life and making mistakes just like the rest of us.
So I invite you to walk down the dusty road of my youth. Hear the junebugs, watch the fireflies, taste the roasted marshmallows and Faygo soda, hear the dog barking underneath the cinderblock steps at Jesse's house, and learn the heartbreaking truth about the way Matt and Jesse's lives have been affected by one fateful night.
The summer of 1972 was the most pivotal of Matt Plumley's childhood. While his beloved Pirates battle for back-to-back World Series titles, Matt's family moves from Pittsburgh to Dogwood, West Virginia, where his father steps into the pulpit of a church under the thumb of town leader Basil Blackwood.
A fish out of water, Matt is relieved to forge a fast bond with two unlikely friends: Dickie Darrel Lee Hancock, a mixed-race boy, and Jesse Woods, a tough-as-nails girl with a sister on her hip and no dad in sight. As the trio traipses the hills and hollers, Matt begins to fall for Jesse, and their promises to each other draw him deeper into her terrifying reality.
One night, the wrath of the Blackwoods and the secrets of Jesse's family collide, and Matt joins Jesse in a rescue that saves one life and ends another . . . and severs the bond of their friendship.
Years later, Matt is pulled back to Dogwood and to memories of that momentous summer by news of Jesse's upcoming wedding. He could never shake the feeling that there was more to the story of that fateful night, and he's determined to learn the truth behind the only promise Jesse Woods ever broke.
The Promise of Jesse Woods released in July 2016 and received the 2017 Christianity Today Book Award of Merit in the Fiction category. For the complete list of 2017 winners and notables, please visit the Christianity Today website. The book also received the 2017 Christy Award in the General Fiction category. Visit the Christy Awards website for a complete list of 2017 winners and finalists.