Title: Almost Heaven
Author: Chris Fabry
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Billy Allman is a hillbilly genius. People in Dogwood, West Virginia, say he was born with a second helping of brains and a gift for playing the mandolin but was cut short on social skills. Though he’d gladly give you the shirt off his back, they were right. Billy longs to use his life as an ode to God, a lyrical, beautiful bluegrass song played with a finely tuned heart. So with spare parts from a lifetime of collecting, he builds a radio station in his own home. People in town laugh. But Billy carries a brutal secret that keeps him from significance and purpose. Things always seem to go wrong for him.
However small his life seems, from a different perspective Billy’s song reaches far beyond the hills and hollers he calls home. Malachi is an angel sent to observe Billy. Though it is not his dream assignment, Malachi follows the man and begins to see the bigger picture of how each painful step Billy takes is a note added to a beautiful symphony that will forever change the lives of those who hear it.
This is the story of Billy Allman, a simple man born and raised in the hills of West Virginia. All of his life, he’s had a strong faith in God, a love of bluegrass music, and a dream for a radio station. Everything in his life seems to go wrong, but through it all he remains steadfast in his love of the Lord. In fact, the worse the situation, the stronger his faith seems to grow.
Malachi is an angel given the task of protecting Billy. Through the angel’s eyes, readers are given a deeper look at human nature and how those in the heavenlies might view life here on earth. Malachi suffers from a few moments of doubt, making him easy to connect with, but his faith in God’s goodness and his allegiance to the Creator never waver.
Throughout the story, we see event after event in Billy’s life that has a deep impact on him. Many are enough to make some people decide God has abandoned them. But as Billy remains strong in his faith, it inspires readers to do the same. A common theme in the book is that no matter how bad life gets here on earth, God is still very much in control and He’s right there with us through it all, even when it feels like we’re stumbling along on our own.
Almost Heaven is filled with poignant emotion and amazing descriptions that draw the reader in. The emotions and events are portrayed in such a way that readers can easily empathize with the characters and experience the story right along with them. The many reminders of God’s love and healing are uplifting without being overwhelming. It’s the kind of book that will speak to a wide audience.
I recommend this book for any reader who doubts God’s goodness, or doesn’t feel worthy of His mercy, or is going through a difficult time, or has an experience in their past that still haunts them. Basically, any reader who enjoys Christian fiction will likely enjoy Almost Heaven.