I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by Tyndale House Publishers. I was not compensated for this review and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.Under a Cloudless Sky by Chris Fabry
Published by NavPress on January 9th 2018
Genres: Christian, Contemporary Women, Fiction, General, Small Town & Rural
Source: Tyndale House Publishers
A charming and engrossing novel for fans of Southern fiction and the recent hit memoir Hillbilly Elegy about a lush and storied coal-mining town—and the good people who live there—in danger of being destroyed for the sake of profit. Will the truth about the town’s past be its final undoing or its saving grace?
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.
Oh for the love of gravy, I have no idea how I want to review this book. I really really liked it for so many reasons I really can’t tell you. I mean, let’s face it, there are things I question and some concerns I have but there are so many other things that I just take with the wind and don’t even second guess. I mean, truly that’s the way it is most of the time right? The problem is I don’t have the words, any words much less all the words, to guide you through my time spent bonding with this book.
Here’s the deal. Let’s start simple shall we. I love how the author set the book up with himself as the narrator and each chapter having a date and time and a snippet of what is happening. For example:
Hollis takes the long way home
Beluah Mountain, West Virginia
Friday, October 1, 2004
That’s important because some of the things take place in other areas. It’s also important because it helps to create a seamless transition between then (1933) and now (2004). Let’s talk about those transitions shall we. They were seamless, each part of the story blended to the next, regardless of the date, in such a way that it was almost magical. It drew you like a moth to the flame but saved you from getting burnt. Each time period had scenes that were liveable, I could picture myself in their moments, bells even in their shoes as the characters were very well developed too boot.
Storyline, I have to go there. I was about halfway through the book and on the phone with Kristin (you know this is a thing!) and I had already figured out one of the twists. Oh, yeah there are more twists and turns, hills and valleys than a county road through the Ozark Mountains (if you have never driven around Branson, MO you have no idea the crazy that is possible in road creation) but they are way easier on the tummy. Now back to Kristin, she’s already read the book. In my infinite wisdom I tell her that I am going to tell her the outcome of ‘Thing 1’ (I’m not giving you spoilers!) and she has to tell me if I’m right just yes or no. Well the big Thing, Thing 1, totally nailed it before I was half done with the book. I think I impressed her with my mad skills and all. Probably not. Anyway, I had an inkling of a smaller but just as vital ‘Thing 2’. So I ask her and she says no. And she LIED to me! Lied I tell ya. She swears that she misunderstood my question and said her headache made her do it (ya right) but I was seriously doubting my deductive reasoning skills.
Now that you seriously doubt my sanity and words putting together skills I’m going to leave you with some closing thoughts. Never assume anything. Never leave a partially finished story on the table. When you do someone else might come through and rewrite the world you thought you knew. Never get so into who you think you are that you forget who you really are. This book embraced everything that I respect in fiction, real yet flawed characters with heart and soul and spunk and intelligence. There was that one thing that happened in the middle that enhanced the story not one wit but did create the endgame so to speak, it was a necessary distraction from the bigger picture (that could have been handled a number of different ways but still probably just a distraction). This book has a glimmer of coming of age that tangos with mystery and a slice of intrigue but cozies up as just an amazing weekend read.