Chris Fabry’s Dogwood

Dogwood by Christ Fabry is set in West Virginia and told from four different points of view.

Karin is a pastor’s wife with three children. But she feels far from God. She has trouble sleeping and spends most nights in her closet with a Bible and a book of poetry. She doesn’t seem to know what the basic problem is or how to feel close to God again. An aged woman in her church, Ruby, takes an interest in her and tries to help her.

Will Hatfield is from Dogwood, but has spent the last twelve years of his life in prison for his part in an accident that killed two children. He has loved Karin since he was a teenager and plans to go back to Dogwood and win her when he gets out.

Bobby Ray is Karen’s brother, a rookie police officer, and a soon-to-be dad of his first child with his wife.

Danny Boyd is a young boy who talks to a counselor about his feeling responsible for the death of his sisters.

At first, the four different points of view are confusing, especially as some of the names of side characters are similar. I listened to the audiobook, which makes it harder to backtrack to double check names or points. But after a while, I was able to distinguish who was whom and who belonged with which character.

I was able to piece various parts of the story together as the narratives went along. I had figured out one aspect, but the main twist, revealed in the last 30-45 minutes of the story, took me by completely by surprise.

I loved some of Fabry’s phrasing here:

My constant companions were fears, not God. I convinced myself he was simply on vacation, out carrying someone else on that beach with all the footprints. My heart had shriveled, and my soul was as wrinkled.

Ruthie was the first to tell me that God hadn’t abandoned me but was drawing me deeper, calling me out of the shallows, past the abyss, and into the current of his love and mercy. Yeah, right, I thought. God hadn’t asked me if I wanted to go deeper, and thank you very much, I liked the shallows. It’s easier to play when there’s no current. In the middle you lose your footing; you lose control.

Water that’s not moving becomes stagnant. And if there’s not someone pouring into you, the pitcher gets dusty. A person is most satisfied and most useful when she is both giving and receiving. In marriage. In life. In friendship. With God too.

There were a couple of statements that bothered me, like “I’m convinced God sometimes wants to communicate outside the usual box” and “Listen to your heart.”

And I didn’t like couple of scenes with a teen couple swimming in their underwear and mention of women displaying cleavages for Will to see.

But the overall story was very good. Chris tells some of his thoughts in writing the novel here. This is the first of a trilogy. I had already read June Bug, the sequel, a few years ago. I probably won’t read the last one, though, about an angel’s assignment in Dogwood.

8 thoughts on “Chris Fabry’s Dogwood

  1. Thanks for your review. I’ve tried twice to read this one without success. Just can’t get into it, but maybe I’ll try again. Does any type of cohesive plot emerge, or is this character-driven literary fiction? Thanks.

    • Yes, there’s a strong plot later in the book. At first it just seems to be about what’s going on in people’s heads. But there’s some action later in the book, and everything comes together in a surprising way.

    • That bothered me, too, Mary. It didn’t seem like Fabry would write something like that. But a major plot twist near the end reveals everything is not as it seemed. I can’t say more without spoiling the story for those who haven’t read it. But feel free to email me if you’d like to know more.

  2. It’s fiction. No we don’t want to condone adultery but in the real world, adultery DOES happen. (this is in response to the person who asked the question about the man pursuing a married woman). perhaps he doesn’t know she’s married to a pastor because he’s been in prison?? plus it shows real life. Real problems. I don’t know this book or the author but your review is intriguing. I love where there are different characters, different stories and it all comes together. I’m assuming this is Christian fiction?? I don’t often read it but this actually sounds intriguing and not sappy. I’d probably NOT like the next one though about an angel. Not my thing.

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