DARKNESS BEFORE DAWN by Sharon M. Draper

DARKNESS BEFORE DAWN

Age Range: 14 & up
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A trip to the mall becomes therapy in this high-school soap opera, third in the Hazelwood High series by Draper (Romiette and Julio, 1999; Forged by Fire, 1997). African-American narrator Keisha, having mourned the suicide of her ex-boyfriend, involves herself with an attractive older man—with near-disastrous results. Jonathan’s attention makes Keisha feel mature, so she defies her parents’ injunction not to date him and ends up having to defend herself from rape in his apartment—an event so nakedly foreshadowed that there is little tension. Draper presents an appealing circle of friends, but they are so ridiculously virtuous—eschewing sex before marriage, avoiding alcohol (not a whisper about drugs), doing their homework, diligently making college plans, impulsively giving soup to a homeless woman, coaxing an anorexic friend into eating—that they stand more as good role models for teen readers than as realistic characters. Dialogue is frequently stilted (“Especially in winter, blooming flowers bring smiles to folks like me who are sad and confused”), and the use of the ungrammatical “me and . . . ” nominative construction, presumably to create voice, is at odds with the high-achieving Keisha’s otherwise Standard English. This series appears to be an attempt to carve out a niche of the high-school problem-novel market for African-American teens; it’s a pity this offering only complements the banality so often found in this genre. (Fiction. YA)

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-689-83080-7
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Atheneum
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 2000




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