Rating: 5 Stars
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Summary from Tyndale: Desperate to escape haunting memories, J. D. Jessup travels from Nashville to Tucson and volunteers on an organic farm. The hardened landowner has one prevailing rule: If J. D. sees an “illegal,” call the border patrol. But when an early morning ride along the fence line leads him to a beautiful young woman named Maria, near death in the desert, his heart pulls him in another direction. Longing to atone for the choices that drove him to Tucson, J. D. hides her and unleashes a chain of deadly events he could never have imagined. Soon they are running from a killer and fighting for their lives. As secrets of their pasts emerge, J. D. realizes that saving Maria may be the only way to save himself.
Review: Gripping is the first word that comes to mind when I think of Chris Fabry's latest novel, Borders of the Heart. Fabry never bores his readers with cliche plots or typical characters, and he layers his books with meaningful themes. Borders of the Heart is action-packed and fast moving, with danger and suspense around nearly every turn. This novel certainly has more violence and killing than most books I read, but it is not graphic. In a story involving drug cartels and a subculture pervaded by evil, violence is expected. Without it, the authenticity of the plot would suffer.
The border of Mexico can be a tumultuous and dangerous area, and Fabry takes readers on a tense adventure with J.D. Jessup as he finds himself in deadly situations. From the beginning of the novel, I was drawn in by the mystery surrounding Maria and J.D.'s efforts to save her. We all struggle with the "right" way to handle certain situations, but the circumstances in Borders of the Heart are far more extreme than routine decisions. It is easy to understand J.D.'s constant debate over helping Maria and turning her into the authorities. The plot magnifies the fact that our choices are always accompanied by consequences that affect not only us, but others as well.
Fabry treats readers to an unconventional love story in the midst of all of the action. The quick pace of the adventure is tempered by introspective moments when we learn about J.D.'s and Maria's pasts. Both characters have shortcomings and emotional scars, which make them three-dimensional. Character development is intricately incorporated with mystery and thrill. Learning about Maria and J.D. kept me glued to the pages as much as any other aspect of the plot. Once again, Chris Fabry has created a novel that will appeal to a diverse range of readers - women and men alike.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers through their book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Borders of the Heart-
Q: Your newest novel, Borders of the Heart, addresses heavy topics such as illegal immigration, the U.S./Mexico drug trade and the cost of compassion. Where did you get your inspiration for the book?
A: Our family moved to Arizona in 2008 and since then I’ve known I wanted to write about this area of the country, a rich, desert existence with problems and possibilities. This book is not as much an “issue” book as it is a book about people who have to deal with lots of those issues as part of their daily lives. I don’t have an ax to grind on the topics, but I did want to show how real people are affected by these contemporary topics.
Q: Several of the characters in Borders of the Heart are dealing with things from their past. What lessons do your characters learn along the way?
A: The past is huge for each of us. I’m convinced many are “stuck” by something in the past that holds us back from being all God wants us to be. A reader will walk through that process with the main character, J.D., and I’m hoping they’ll see an authentic struggle.
Q: J.D. Jessup is faced with a very difficult moral dilemma when he weighs the decision to follow his boss’ very clear direction or his own heart when he discovers Maria near death. What lessons does this story provide for your readers?
A: Every choice we make in life comes with a cost. If we say yes to one thing, we may have to say no to something else. The choice J.D. makes is a good choice, and even good choices can lead to disastrous and deadly results. Can you believe that God is involved in even the difficult circumstances? I think that’s a huge reveal in this story for me. Does everything have to work out perfectly in the end in order for God to be glorified?
Q: How does the concept of redemption figure into your story? Was it gratifying to write about redemption? Why or why not?
A: A lot of people don’t like the word “saved.” It’s old fashioned and not in vogue. I think the term is loaded with truth because if you’re on the verge of death and someone “saves” you, you know exactly what that means and how grateful you would be. Characters in this story get rescued from certain death and when the stakes are that high, I can’t help but get emotionally involved in the story.
Q: How does the concept of grace figure into your story? Was it gratifying to write about grace? Why or why not?
A: Grace is when we’re treated better than we deserve. Yes, characters discover that in the book as well. I love the concept of grace in such a gritty, tough story because you’re not expecting it. You’re expecting A+B=C and when grace invades, it catches you by surprise.
Q: Borders of the Heart clearly demonstrates that sometimes there is a cost to compassion. What made this an important story element for you? Why was it important for you to show that sometimes there is a cost for us when we behave compassionately?
A: You’ve heard the saying, “Freedom isn’t free.” The one who acts with compassion usually absorbs the pain of someone else. This is a picture of the cross, of the sacrifice made for us in Christ. This is another thread you’ll discover throughout the story.
Q: Have you ever been faced with a real-life hard choice or ethical dilemma like your main character J.D.? If so, what was your dilemma and did you feel like you made the right choice?
A: I’ve never had to decide whether to leave a person for dead or not, but I think every day we have a chance to sacrifice. Sometimes it’s a small thing, like taking time for your children when you have something REALLY important, like writing a few more paragraphs. I haven’t always passed those tests. My contention is, the details of everyday life will show what we’ll do with the big decisions. If you choose well in the small moments, the moments when no one is looking, you’ll choose well when a huge decision comes your way. Conversely, if you don’t see the little things as important, you might not make a good decision with the big decision.
Q: What do you hope your readers will take away from reading Borders of the Heart?
A: Borders of the Heart is at its core a love story. You will root for J.D. and Maria to survive and solve the mystery of what’s really going on in Tucson. And I hope readers will take away the truth that what looks impossible to people is possible with God’s power. Even if something looks hopeless, it’s really not when God is involved.