My impression of Chris Fabry’s Almost Heaven, was similar to entering a friend’s mismatched family-room: comfy, welcoming, and unassuming. Fabry has managed to draw from an ordinary character, Billy Allman, the struggles and triumphs of a heart bent on pursuing God, while weaving in the concurrent heavenly perspective of Billy’s guardian angel, Malachi. I found it an enjoyable, if not riveting, read; characters drew, but did not overwhelm; and situations were similar to life, yet not overpowering. Despite Billy’s many sorrows, he remains bent on a single goal: a radio station operated from his house, for the surrounding community to be encouraged by bluegrass and Bible. Malachi stands ready to do spiritual battle on Billy’s behalf in the shadows, yet struggles with the value of his role. While Malachi is aware of every aspect of Billy’s life, (even to the point of frustration that he may not assist others related to Billy), his charge seems oblivious. In the end, all problems are not neatly wrapped up, nor all struggles quenched, much like any active life, and yet Malachi exits.
While I may not choose to read this book again, and give it a mediocre 3 stars (of 5), I do applaud the effort Chris made to intertwine a difficult concept: the heavens watch our actions, and God orders protection for His purposes, as well as events for His timing. I appreciated the struggles of Malachi, which gave many of my unanswerable queries of God new light, while wondering if an ordered-angel would question any aspect of his service. While he repeatedly and persistently returned to the immutability of God, he still questioned. I had rather thought of angels as quick and joyful servants, rather than soul-less, doubting warriors. Malachi, then, seems more like me on a bad day, while Billy has chosen the better: a trusting, obedient character. I was encouraged to think of the battles fought on my behalf, for kingdom purposes, and humbled with my small part.
Tyndale House Publishers has provided me, as a grateful member of their Tyndale Blog Network, with a complimentary copy of this book in return for this review, my opinions (by default), are my own.