Charlotte Stevenson's life has taken a turn that she doesn't know whether it is for better or worse. A tragic accident has left her grandchildren motherless, and her runaway daughter is lost to her forever. Sixteen years in the past, Charlotte lost her precious daughter to the world, California, to be exact. And Denise never looked back - not even when the children's father left her to raise three children on her own. The mistakes of the past will never be resolved, and the bridge between Charlotte and her daughter eternally severed.
Sam is sixteen years old and very protective of his siblings. Emily is fourteen and missing her friends almost as much as her mother. And Christopher is ten, with the only desire in his little heart being that he wants to be part of a family again. With Bob and Charlotte getting on in years, will they be able to raise the three broken-hearted children? Will Charlotte have better success with these children then her own daughter? Or is it too late to show them she really cares about them even if they don't know her at all?
The story was heartwarming and tender; just the kind of book you curl up with on the couch and while the time away. I knew things would eventually turn out fine, but it was all about the journey. It was about feeling Charlotte's struggles, Emily's doubts, Sam's resignation, and Christopher's desire to fit in. It was about feeling like part of the family in the remote setting of a rural Nebraska farm. But most of all it was about watching God's will working in a family that is in desperate need of second chances, redemption and most of all; love.
This book was provided by the publisher through Litfuse Nest for free in exchange for an honest review.
Before the Dawn is the first book in Guideposts' new Home to Heather Creek Series. We're introduced to a family and a difficult situation: Charlotte and Bob are nearing their retirement years on their Midwestern farm, when their lives are suddenly turned upside down by the death of their daughter Denise, the rebel who left home as a teenager. In the succeeding years, Denise moved to San Diego, married, had three children, now 16, 14 and 10, and divorced, but hadn't let her parents into her life beyond stilted phone conversations. Now her three city-reared children are thrust into a totally foreign lifestyle on a farm with grandparents they don't know, away from their friends and cell phone towers.
Charlotte struggles to reach these kids from a generation she doesn't understand, while trying to teach them how to fit into the "everyone helps" lifestyle of a farm. She hides her grief over losing her daughter, while wondering what she did wrong with Denise and what she must do differently now. Bob, as could be typical with men of his generation, closes down, and thinks that demanding obedience will be enough to get the kids in line. The kids struggle with the loss of their mother, their electronics, their friends, and the loss of life as they knew it, and make secret plans that one day they will return to San Diego. Everything is made more difficult by the lack of communication between the generations, as each person hides their grief and no one talks about Denise.
The various people in this story are very believable, and the situations are often rather humorous (in a Green Acres kind of way!) I found myself relating to Charlotte's struggles, as she was caught between keeping everything status quo for her husband and adapting the routine to better fit her grandchildren's needs. She learns to depend on her friends and her Savior and to rejoice in the small victories along the way.
In Sweet September, the second book of the series, the family continues to grow into a unit, but challenges still abound. A plundered vegetable garden creates a mystery that helps a family to pull together. The Slater children are beginning to be a part of the whole community and finding that country living isn't so bad after all. Better connections in the family result, and even Bob starts to bond with his grandchildren and relate better to his grown son.
I enjoyed these books. In a time when many grandparents suddenly find themselves in a parenting role, the writing team that is Kathleen Bauer tackled the difficulties and triumphs in a very realistic way. Although the stories are not filled with deep suspense or complicated plotlines, they are entertaining and thought-provoking. Good for when you want a cozy read!
This review gives more insight than just "it was/wasn't a good book" or "this is/isn't a must read". While I try not to give too much away, sometimes it's difficult to write about the story and have it not be revealing.
Charlotte Stevenson knows it's always darkest before the dawn. But it seemed the sixty-four year old's life couldn't get any darker than it was. Her thirty-five year daughter Denise had left home at eighteen and Charlotte was still struggling with guilt from that. Charlotte had spoken to her over the years, but she never visited Denise and her children, Sam, Emily, and Christopher, whom she had never met. With Denise's untimely passing, Charlotte and her husband Bob now had custody of those three grandchildren. Charlotte didn't feel like dawn was ever going to come. The grandkids didn't like life in the small town of Nebraska. And they definitely didn't like living on a farm. Charlotte needed to be strong for the kids even though she grieving the loss of her daughter for a second time.
Charlotte was happy to finally be with her grandchildren but she didn't know if she was up for the task. She and Bob were set in their ways. Bob believed that they should raise the kids they way they raised their own children, which concerned Charlotte since their own children didn't seemed to turn out they way she had planned.
This story is geared towards an older audience. It was slow moving but in a good way. Charlotte and her husband are farmers. The author describes them and their way in life in a way that I could picture the family and their surroundings as I read. The Stevensons are also Christians and it was easy to see that following God and his ways was important to them.
The characters are realistic, imperfect people trying to get through life the best they can. They could be your next door neighbors. Charlotte and Bob's being set in their ways made it a constant struggle between them after their grandkids arrived. Bob refused to changed while Charlotte knew that the only way to get anywhere in the relationship with the kids was if they did change.
I was surprised at how emotional I felt as I read about the foal of Denise's horse being born and everyone waiting to see if all was going to turn out the way they hoped it would. I was rooting for the horses and the family at the same time.
As a parent of children that still live at home, I got a clear message from this story. There will always be something that needs to be done but your children need you more. The author showed Charlotte always thinking that she could have been a better parent and raising her grandchildren was a chance to finally get it right. I feel the author is showing the reader that raising children isn't easy and we are going to make mistakes. We need to step back and ask God to guide us. We need to do the best we know how. We need to constantly turn to God for help, just like Charlotte did.
Home to Heather Creek Series:
Before The Dawn
I received a free copy of this book from Guideposts and The Christian Manifesto in exchange for my honest review.
Charlotte had just returned from San Diego with the three grandchildren. The children had lost their mother to an automobile accident. Charlotte and Bob had gone there as soon as they received the news of their daughter's death, but Bob had had to return to their Nebraska farm shortly after the funeral. Charlotte had stayed with the kids for the week, dealing with the aftermath of their daughter's death.
Now, here they were. Sixteen year old Sam, thirteen year old Emily, and ten year old Christopher, transported from the bustle of city life to their grandparent's farm _ out in the boonies. Charlotte wondered, how would the children adjust? How would they do in school? Sam loved soccer and the high school hadn't even thought of a soccer team. Emily loved chatting with her friends and there was hardly any cell reception on the farm. And Christopher, quiet Christopher. How would he adjust? And Charlotte wondered about her and Bob too. They were in their mid sixties. How could they possibly do this? She knew it would only be with the Lord's help.
What a great novel of a family struggling to make it through a huge adjustment. Fears, hurts, and mistakes all rear their ugly heads as Charlotte tries to love the children into their family.
The characters are well crafted. I could feel Charlotte's pain and frustration at trying to help grandchildren she'd hardly ever seen. I was angry right along with Emily as she tried to face a world so different from the one she had known. My heart went out to Sam who tried to be so strong as he took care of his younger siblings. And sweet Christopher. My stomach ached along with his those first days in a strange school.
Be sure to have a tissue when you get close to the end of the book. I mean it. Even hard nosed farmer Grandpa Bob _ well, you'll just have to read the book.
I received a complimentary copy of this book through Litfuse Publicity for the purpose of this review.
Talk about changing your life. Charlotte Stevenson and her husband Bob received the devastating news that their estranged daughter Denise has been killed in an auto accident. She left behind three children, and in her will has her parents listed as guardians.
So begins the new life on the farm in Nebraska, a real change from San Diego. The children Sam, Emily and Christopher are trying to deal with the death of their Mother, loss of their world as they knew it, and all their friends. Charlotte and Bob are dealing with the death of their daughter, and now becoming parents to three children.
There are some tough and hard times ahead for all, one thing they have to lean on is their faith. When God closes some doors he does open others, and learning to lean on him is sometimes hard.
Dropping from the city to a farm is a big awakening for anyone, now instead of texting on their phones, they are gathering eggs. Come along with this new way of life for this family, I really enjoyed this quick read, and am glad their is another book in this series.
I received this book through Litfuse Publicity Book Tours, and was not required to give a positive review.