Book Review: "Before the Dawn" by Carolyne Aarsen

Great Start to a New Series

Charlotte Stevenson's world has been turned upside down. What was a pleasant life on a Nebraska farm with her husband has now been rocked by news of her only daughter's death. Now they must take care of Denise's three children Sam, Emily and Christopher. Even though they haven't taken care of children in years, they want to do right by Denise, who left home at an early age after a disagreement. They never saw her again. Will they be able to help out the three struggling city children who feel out of place and alone on the farm or will history repeat itself and they leave just like Denise did?

Multi author series can sometimes be a challenge because there can be lack in continuity, characters don't show up in every book, and different personalities appear with each different author. I get wary sometimes that the flow of the story will be broken up when something that happens in one novel never gets mentioned again or that there's an endless storyline that keeps going on in 20 books just to keep the continuity. For those reasons alone I usually stay way from these type of series. However, I believe the Home to Heather Creek series breaks that mold and I have found it one of the most comforting and engaging set of stories that I have ever read.
Charlotte and her husband faithfully represent an older generation who while set in their ways, are willing to try to adapt to their younger grandchildren. I thought it was very touching of them to try to make up for all their lost time with their now deceased daughter and put all that effort into raising her children. Meanwhile I was pleased with how the book portrayed the feeling of the children well, especially the feelings of the older teens. Usually I always worry that non YA writers are unable to make teens realistic and relatable. I always grimace when modern teens seem to do things that kids from the 50s would do. However, this book makes them hip and acting like a teenager of today would. Emily is a vegetarian and while this would have been odd on a farm, Charlotte does her best to meet her needs and allows her to be who she wants to be. The setting is comfy, there's lots of food and love in this series. It allows a generation gap with differences to be noticed but doesn't allow mass conflict between the two parties. Since this story is the first book in the series, the book allows the characters to feel around and get to know each other without diving into major drama.

My only qualm was there a minor scene where some of the terminology seemed a bit outdated. However I'll chalk it up and like to think that happened because it's coming from Charlotte's point of view who may not always be up to date with the latest slang or technology.
This book is a wonderful introduction to this series, and brings together unique characters in a comforting setting. Heather Creek is a place you'll want to visit and then never want to leave. Believe me, once you start with this series you won't be able to stop.

Before the Dawn by
Carolyne Aarsen is published by Guideposts (2008)


  1. That book sounds very relevant today since so many grandparents are raising their grandchildren. Great review.

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  3. I'm so glad you like this series! I love these books so much. Thanks for the awesome review!


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