Fabry (War Room) captures the political and social climate of an Appalachian mining community in this evocative novel set between 1933 and 2004. Beginning in 1933 with the budding friendship between young girls Ruby and Bean (one the daughter of a mine owner, the other the daughter of a miner), the story leads up to the horrific massacre of miners during a conflict between the workers and management that defines Beulah Mountain for generations. In the present day, the people of Beulah Mountain are being forced to sell their land to Coleman Coal and Energy or face rising property taxes and even more hardship, as it seems the energy company and government are working together. When the company store is converted into a museum, Ruby, now in her 80s, is invited to its opening as an honored guest. She has no intention of returning until an argument with her kids convinces her to finally confront her past in order to overcome it. While her kids believe that it’s time for her to lean more on them, she is determined to be independent and, after hearing a sermon about forgiveness, she heads back to Beulah Mountain, leaving her worried kids behind. Fabry weaves the events of the past and present into a finely layered story exploring the relationships of faith, forgiveness and family in the midst of healing from pain buried deep in the past.
With part of the story taking place in 1933 and the other half in 2004, Fabry’s latest is a multilayered, engaging story with rich details and interesting characters. Thanks to the historical coal-mining backstory, Under a Cloudless Sky should appeal to both readers of Southern historical fiction and inspirational fiction. Fabry offers readers some surprising twists as he slowly weaves the two stories together. Some savvy readers may be able to guess where the story is going, and others will be shocked as reveals are made. Under a Cloudless Sky is entertaining and a wonderful addition to the inspirational fiction genre. Rating: Four stars