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. 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.

What Readers Are Saying . . .

  • "In this edge-of-your-seat romantic suspense, all of the characters ring true."

    BOOKLIST on Borders of the Heart

  • "A conflicted, memorable main character. . . . While the mystery at its core is compelling, it's Wiley's inner conflict that's truly engrossing. Down to its final pages, [Not in the Heart] is a gripping read."

    CROSSWALK.COM

  • "This absorbing novel should further boost Fabry's reputation as one of the most talented authors in Christian fiction."

    CBA RETAILERS + RESOURCES on Not in the Heart

  • "A tender coming-of-age story of first love, innocence lost, and the soul-freeing power of truth."

    Charles Martin, New York Times bestselling author, on The Promise of Jesse Woods

  • "Great Christian novels are more than a story, they leave the reader pondering the state of his or her own heart. Not in the Heart demonstrates God's power to transform the seemingly untransformable."

    TITLETRAKK.COM

  • "A book about deep secrets, the effort it takes to heal catastrophic hurts, and a thriller with an excellent plot climax."

    1340MAGBOOKS.COM on Dogwood

  • "A fresh voice in Christian fiction . . . [Fabry] brings his trademark rich character development to this story, which delves into weighty issues like judgment, contentment, giftedness, and society's outcasts."

    EVANGELICAL CHRISTIAN PUBLISHERS ASSOCIATION on Every Waking Moment

  • "A captivating story. . . ."

    CHRISTIANBOOKPREVIEWS.COM on June Bug

  • "Once again, Chris Fabry's brilliance in developing full-fleshed characters within a thrilling, yet poignant and sometimes painful story has captivated my heart and mind."

    FICTIONADDICT.COM on Every Waking Moment