Charlotte’s daughter Denise dies, she and her husband Bob take in Denise’s
three kids, Sam, Emily, and Christopher. Moving from bustling San Diego to the
open fields of Nebraska is a challenge for the kids, and dealing with their
mother’s death along with the change of lifestyle proves to be difficult. With
a husband and son hard at work on the farm, it falls to Charlotte to bring the
kids into the family, but the kids rebuff Charlotte’s best efforts, dealing
with grief in their own ways. Brief moments of connection between Charlotte and
each of the kids are swept away by disconnection, disunity, and argument. As
Charlotte strives to show her grandkids love, she wonders if they’ll ever be a
united family. Before the Dawn (Guidepost
Books) by Kathleen Bauer is the story of a fragmented family that must face the
gulf of grief and overcome their struggles together.

who is actually a talented team of writers collaborating under a pen name to craft the
Home to Harbor Creek series, constructs her novel on a web of connection and
disconnection between the characters. Each chapter brings new instances of this
turbulent relationship, all spiraling towards the crisis, the final moment of
connection between Charlotte and her grandkids. The first major barriers
between Charlotte and the kids are the new setting, new school, and new
expectations the kids have to deal with. Despite Emily’s surly attitude, her
Uncle Pete reaches out to her with quotes from The Princess Bride, and amidst the struggle, they share a few
smiles over the inside joke. However, the same Emily fights with Charlotte over
her cell phone, and eventually Charlotte takes it away, forcing a wedge between
them again. Sam, the eldest, can’t skateboard on the dirt farm and leaves his
suitcases packed up, expecting to leave soon. Christopher, the youngest, finds
a moment of connection when Charlotte allows him to bring a pet kitten into the
house. The ultimate moment of connection is when Charlotte begins to share
memories of Denise with the kids. They come to realize that each of them is
struggling with grief, and that a shared burden is lighter than one borne

characters experience remarkable growth throughout the novel. When Charlotte’s
grandkids first arrive, she’s constantly anxious, desperate to keep a happy
face for the grieving kids. At first, Charlotte
bases her parenting style on how she raised her own kids, but she comes to
realize that she can make some changes this time, to be a little less strict. She
learns to let go—to let other people in the community help her raise the kids. Ultimately,
she learns that putting on a happy face is not the answer. Charlotte is so
concerned with disciplining and raising the kids right that she struggles with expressing
her own love and grief to them. When the kids see the depth of Charlotte’s love
and grief, they realize that their grandparents’ love is genuine, and that they
too are devastated by Denise’s death.

this family eventually the family comes together and understand that love
can afford some mistakes? It is always darkest before the dawn, but can they still
learn to compromise, connect, and communicate? Before the Dawn released this
past September—find our more about the book here! 

FamilyFiction’s book reviewing intern, Niki, is a third-year
English major at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California. She's a fan of
reading, writing, drinking tea, and cats.

Check out more great articles