When the world around you falls apart, could it be that God is giving you a second chance? This is just one of the questions on Charlotte Stevenson’s mind as she brings her three grandchildren to live on the family farm in Guidepost Books’ Home to Heather Creek series.
Before the Dawn begins just one week after the funeral of Charlotte’s daughter, Denise. Denise’s three children barely have time to process the death of their mother before they must move to the Heather Creek Farm they have never visited with grandparents they barely know. At age 16, Sam is fiercely protective of his younger siblings. Emily is 14 and desperately misses her friends. Young Christopher is only 8 and just wants to fit in. While Charlotte tries to help her grandchildren adjust to their new life, she also wrestles with her own grief and the enormous task of bringing her family together. Bob believes the fastest path to adjustment is a firm routine, with structure and chores, the same way they raised their own kids. However, that route led to Denise running away from home as a teenager and an estranged relationship with her family. Charlotte is worried about making the same mistakes she made with Denise. Is this her chance to make things right?
It is spring when the children arrive, and as Charlotte looks around the farm, she hopes the new life around them will signify hope and healing. The miracle of new life, along with God’s healing touch, reminds all of them that it’s always darkest just before the dawn.
Sweet September picks up at harvest time, as the children are settling into a new school year. While the harvest should be an exciting time, the children don’t seem to be getting into the spirit. Emily is struggling with farm life, Christopher spends most of his time alone, and Sam is failing school. Trying to learn from what did and didn’t work with her own kids, Charlotte is determined to get her grandchildren back on track.
As tenuous family bonds threaten to break apart, a mystery on the farm might be the one thing that can bond the family together. Charlotte sets out to uncover the truth, and as the kids unite to find answers, this cobbled-together family learns more about one another and the love that binds them together.
The lives of the Stevensons and their grandchildren unfold in this captivating story of the remarkable change that comes from the love of family, the kindness of others, sheer persistence and unshakable faith. As readers follow the Stevensons’ inspiring stories, it’s almost impossible not feel a part of this friendly, loving community, where God’s grace can be seen in every circumstance.
Kathleen Bauer is the pen name for a team of writers who have come together to create the Home to Heather Creek series. (Before The Dawn — Carolyne Aarsen. Sweet September – Tricia Goyer)
Home to Heather Creek is a sequential series that has been rereleased by Guideposts. I read and really liked the first 2 books in the multi-book series. Quiet books with realistic characters and a bucolic mid-Western setting, this series will appeal to those who like contemporary fiction that tells a story of love, family and belonging.
In Before The Dawn, Charlotte’s only daughter has been killed in a tragic accident. She and her husband Bob take their three grandchildren, Sam age 16, Emily age 14 and Christopher age 10, to live on their farm. The changes for the children are hard, and Charlotte struggles to provide a loving and healing home for them while maintaining discipline. The book is a realistic look at the chasm between grandparents and their very tech-savvy grandchildren. There is also a huge culture shock for the kids — things on the farm are very different from their life in San Diego. And the changes are not any easier on Charlotte and Bob. Set in their ways, three active children take a toll on their orderly life.
Sweet September finds the family settling in, but there are still bumps in the road. Sam is failing school, Emily is slowly navigating relationships and Christopher is keeping secrets. And Uncle Pete causes upsets in his attempts to bring modern methods to the farm. A mystery on the farm and a new arrival bring the family closer in their quest to uncover the past and establish the future.
Both books are realistic in their portrayal of the relationships between the family members. Told mostly from Charlotte’s point of view, each book also includes the points of view of a different grandchild. I also liked the secondary characters that seek to guide and support the family. The Home to Heather Creek series highlights the best of family, friends and faith and I recommend it.
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(I received the first two book in this series from Guideposts and LitFuse. The opinions expressed are mine alone.)
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