Darkness before Dawn (Hazelwood High Trilogy #3)

Darkness before Dawn (Hazelwood High Trilogy #3)

4.6 176
by Sharon M. Draper

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Has Keisha found happiness at last?

In her senior year, things are finally looking a little brighter for Keisha. Still haunted by the suicide of her ex-boyfriend, Andy, she finds comfort in the attentions of the new track coach, twenty-three-year-old Jonathan Hathaway, the principal’s son. How can Keisha not be swept off her feet by a tall, dark,

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Has Keisha found happiness at last?

In her senior year, things are finally looking a little brighter for Keisha. Still haunted by the suicide of her ex-boyfriend, Andy, she finds comfort in the attentions of the new track coach, twenty-three-year-old Jonathan Hathaway, the principal’s son. How can Keisha not be swept off her feet by a tall, dark, handsome “lemon drop wrapped in licorice” who treats her like a woman, not a girl?

But suddenly this intoxicating relationship takes a frightening turn, and Keisha is once again plunged into the darkness she’s fought so hard to escape. Will Keisha ever be able to find her way back into the light?

Editorial Reviews

Keisha is entering her senior year at Cincinnati's Hazelwood High, still haunted by the recent suicide of her ex-boyfriend. She has no interest in boys now, she thinks, until she meets smooth, handsome Jonathan, the son of the school principal. He's no boy—he's already in college, but he's helping out at the high school as the new track coach. A secret romance blossoms, but when Jonathan gets Keisha to come to his apartment he tries to rape her at knifepoint. Keisha escapes, but her world is shattered, and it isn't until another girl comes to tell her that Jonathan had attacked her too that Keisha overcomes her shame and fear, and lets her family and friends help her. Keisha also realizes that a funny, kind boy in her class has been waiting on the sidelines for her all along. This is the third volume in Draper's series about Hazelwood High that chronicles the experiences of a group of close African American friends, following Tears of a Tiger and Forged by Fire, but it isn't necessary to have read the other titles to enjoy this one. The tone is somewhat melodramatic, but Draper tackles serious issues here, including a young dancer's anorexia as well as the suicide and the attempted rape. The up-to-date dialogue and the real-life problems will appeal to junior high and high school readers, girls in particular; and Keisha, her friends, and their warm, teasing, supportive interactions with each other are appealing role models. KLIATT Codes: JS—Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2001, Simon & Schuster/Atheneum, 234p, $16.00. Ages 13 to 18. Reviewer: Paula Rohrlick; January 2001 (Vol. 35 No. 1)
The author does not falsely portray teenage life as entirely blissful. Instead, the book captures both the hardships and the joys of teenage life. The charming characters live in a realistic world full of pain, stress, and joy, wonderfully accented with romance. This modern book reads easily, so presumably the story will appeal to teenagers. The thought-provoking story provides life lessons for teens and adults alike. VOYA CODES: 2Q 2P J S (Better editing or work by the author might have warranted a 3Q; For the YA with a special interest in the subject; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2001, Atheneum/S & S, 240p, $16. Ages 13 to 18. Reviewer: Annabel van Holsbeeck, Teen Reviewer SOURCE: VOYA, August 2001 (Vol. 24, No. 3)
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-Keisha's senior year of high school is quite an ordeal. Her ex-boyfriend has recently committed suicide; a good friend was killed in a car crash; and she is attracted to the new track coach, the principal's college-aged son. When he begins to make advances, Keisha decides that she is mature enough to date this older man. Jonathan, however, turns out to be more than a smooth talker, and attempts to rape her after a romantic date. Readers may be overwhelmed by the soap-opera feel of this issue-laden world of suicide, anorexia, teen models, divorced or dead parents, homelessness, car accidents, and girl power. There's even a romance that Keisha doesn't see coming, but readers will. Although never didactic or preachy, the issues are there to teach a lesson. While slightly unrealistic, the book still may appeal to readers who love page-turners, as Draper has given her characters life by developing relationships and using believable teen-speak.-Angela J. Reynolds, Washington County Cooperative Library Services, Aloha, OR Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
From the Publisher
“Moving and triumphant.”
“Moving and triumphant.”

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Product Details

Simon Pulse
Publication date:
Hazelwood High Trilogy Series, #3
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.19(w) x 7.00(h) x 0.90(d)
670L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 7

December began with a blizzard. Fifteen inches of snow covered Cincinnati like a thick, white winter blanket, and the temperatures dipped down to fifteen degrees. Schools, work places, even the malls were closed. I love snow days — no stress, no schedules, no homework. On that cold December day, I hadn't even gotten out of bed yet. I was cuddled under tons of blankets, reading a book I had checked out of the library. The phone rang and I waited till the fourth or fifth ring to pick it up. "Hello."

I heard a male voice clear his throat. "May I speak to Keisha please?"


"This is Jonathan Hathaway. I hope I'm not disturbing you."

I was mildly surprised that he was calling me. I had kept my distance during cross-country practice, and though I sensed that he was interested in me, he rarely said anything to me that was not related to running or training. He always smiled and was pleasant when I was around, and he went out of his way to say hello when I saw him in the halls at school. That was cool with me.

"No, I was just reading and enjoying this snowy day," I told him.

"Well, that's why I called, sort of." He hesitated. "I'm taking some students skiing this afternoon — mostly seniors and a couple of kids from the cross-country team. Just for a couple of hours up at Perfect North Slopes. Would you like to go?"

I was truly surprised. I thought about my warm bed and my good book and started to turn him down, but I loved skiing and didn't often get the chance. "Sure, why not? Sounds like fun."

I could hear him sigh with relief. "I'll pick you up in an hour if that's OK."

He hung up and I dragged myself out of bed to find my long underwear and heavy jacket. I called my mother at work, told her where I was going, and after listening to her warn me about frostbite and windburn, I fixed myself a cup of hot chocolate and got dressed. As I dug in my bottom drawer for my left glove, I called Rhonda, but there was no answer. So I called Jalani.

"What's up, girlfriend?" Jalani said.

"Not much. For sure not the temperature. I must be crazy to think about getting out of my nice warm bed out into that freezing wet stuff outside."

"So what's making you go?"

"Jonathan Hathaway called. He's taking some kids from school up to Perfect North Slopes to ski. I told him I'd go." I think I sounded as if I was having second thoughts.

"What's wrong with that? Beside the fact that you're gonna freeze your buns off, why not go? It's not like a date, you know."

"I never said anything about a date!" I said defensively. I don't know why that bothered me, but it did.

"You know he's got a thing for you," Jalani teased.

"I know somehow he always seems to be around. But he does seem nice," I admitted.

"And he is so fine!" Jalani reminded me.

"That has nothing to do with it. I'm going to make him stop by and pick up Monty also. Monty likes hanging around us, and he needs to laugh and have a little fun."

"So you're going out with Jonathan to help Monty."

"I am not going out with Jonathan!" I yelled into the phone. "He's just the driver."

"Sure, Keisha. Have fun." Jalani chuckled on the other end of the line. "I'm going over to Gerald's to see how Angel is doing. Call me when you get home."

Jonathan arrived, eyes bright with excitement. He thanked me for giving up my warm bed and walked me carefully over the ice and slippery snow to the driveway where Rhonda and Tyrone and B. J., along with Leon and Marcus from the team, sat waiting in the back of Jon-athan's roomy Jeep Cherokee wagon. Jonathan wore a sky-blue down ski jacket with matching ski pants and hat, looking just like a model out of GQ, dressed for successful skiing, while the others wore an assortment of school jackets and probably a couple pairs of jeans. He checked the angle of his cap in the rear view mirror, adjusted it slightly, then pulled off into the snowy afternoon.

"I didn't know you guys were going," I said cheerfully.

"We didn't either," B. J. replied. "It just sounded like fun."

"Hey, Leon, good to see you! What's up?" I said casually.

"Chillin'!" Leon replied with a grin. Everyone laughed, especially since it was so cold outside. Leon reached into his pocket and pulled out a huge snowball. "Hey! This must be why my hands are so cold!"

"Leon, you're crazy!" I shouted. "Get that thing out of here!"

Leon replied with a grin, "As you wish, my lady!" He rolled the window down all the way, while everyone inside the car yelled at him for letting in that blast of freezing air, and tossed the snowball onto the road. I just shook my head, laughing and marveling at the silliness of high school boys.

"I tried to call you, Rhonda, but now I know why I got your mom's machine," I told her.

"B. J. called and told me that instead of sitting through another boring physics lecture, we could experience it first hand!" Rhonda explained.

"The bell would be ringing right now," B. J. reminded them.

"And we would all lean over and get out our notebooks," I began, thankful we were sitting in a Jeep Cherokee, not a classroom.

"Mr. Simpson would start to talk," Rhonda continued.

"He'd turn on the overhead projector," B. J. said.

"He'd dim the lights," Leon added.

"Our eyes would glaze over," I said, as if in that trance.

"And Mr. Simpson would drone on about slopes and angles," Rhonda continued, giggling.

"And that would be just the first five minutes of class!" B. J. laughed triumphantly.

"Then Leon would walk in," I reminded them.

"Late, as usual," Tyrone added.

"Without his homework!" Rhonda continued.

"But with the best excuses in the world!" I added, laughing. "What was that long one you gave Mr. Boston last year?"

"I don't have my homework because I left it in my dad's truck," Leon started to say.

"'So bring it tomorrow,' the teacher says," B. J. continued, laughing as he remembered.

"And I say sweetly to old man Boston, 'I can't bring it tomorrow.'" Leon loved to drag a story out.

"'And why not?' old Boston says, with his high-water pants, bad teeth, and bad breath," B. J. added, continuing the suspense.

"Well, my dad is a long-distance truck driver, sir," Leon said, "and he's on his way to California! And he won't be back for three weeks! So I'll give you my homework next month! It's not my fault!"

Everyone in the car cracked up. It felt good to laugh.

"Did you call Gerald?" I asked Rhonda.

"Gerald wanted to stay home with Angel. She's really doing lots better," Rhonda reported happily. "And lately, Jalani stays pretty close to wherever Gerald happens to be."

I grinned. "I just talked to Jalani. That's where she was headed. I'm glad for them. Remember how scared he was of her?" I noticed that Leon had become unusually quiet.

B. J. added, "We've got one more stop. I thought it would be nice to ask Joyelle. With Angel sick, Joyelle is really lonely."

"That's nice of you, B. J.," I told him.

We pulled into Joyelle's driveway, and she waddled out to the car. Her mother had made her put on so many clothes, she could hardly walk. She climbed in the back and began to remove scarves and gloves and extra jackets, as everybody laughed. Joyelle knew better than to complain — her mother was extra sensitive to her daughter's health and safety since she had lost Rob.

"What about Monty?" I asked Jonathan. "Can we take one more?"

"Sure," he replied easily. "Use my cell phone and call his house." Monty, of course, was thrilled. He met the car in the driveway; his mother waved from the front door.

I sat in the front seat between Jonathan and B. J. I was conscious of my leg touching Jonathan's, but I couldn't squeeze very far away in the crowded car. The roads were surprisingly clear, for the salt trucks had been out all night. The sky was a vivid blue, and the snow-covered trees looked bright and shiny in the sunlight.

We pulled up to the lodge, piled out, and paid our fees and rented skis. Jonathan, of course, had his own skis, sleek and glossy in a custom case. As he reached down to snap them, I noticed that something tiny and metallic clinked to the tiled floor beneath his boots.

Now I'm a good skier, but this was my first time this winter, so I started on the gentler slopes. The air bit my face like tiny knives. I hated to admit it, but my mother, as usual, was right.

I took Monty down a small hill, called Little Bluff, and even though it was his first time on the slopes, he did well and didn't fall once. The expression on his face as he reached the bottom of the hill was worth the effort of getting him ready to do it. He was exultant. "Let's do it again!" he cried. So we took the lift back up. That's when B. J. offered to take him down another, bigger hill, so Monty left me in an instant, excitedly following B. J. I smiled as I watched him go. It was good to see him happy.

I saw Leon in the distance, and noticed he was heading my way, but just then, Jonathan skillfully skied over to where I stood. "Race you down!" he challenged, and I forgot all about Leon for the moment.

"You're on!" I answered Jonathan as I took off. He barely had time to put on his goggles before I had left him in a swirl of snow. He laughed as he took off behind me, easily catching and passing me.

"Good thing this was Little Bluff," I gasped. "I would have left you like yesterday's snowman."

"Are you ready for Deception Hill?" he asked. "I dare you to try."

I hesitated. Deception was steep and curved, and considered one of the most difficult hills on the slopes. "I tell you what," I offered, "instead of racing, let's just try skiing. I don't think I'm ready for racing on Deception yet."

"Good idea," he agreed. We skied together toward the chair lift that would take us to Deception, sliding easily in unison. I found on the ride that Jonathan was easy to talk to, and seemed to have been everywhere and done everything. He had skied in Switzerland, had taken hot-air balloon rides in Kenya, and had even been scuba diving in Australia. I chatted to him about my plans for medical school, my hopes of learning to fly a plane, and my worries about college.

When the lift dropped us off at the top of the slope, the view was breathtaking. It looked like one of those paint-by-number pictures that I used to do when I was ten years old. Bright, clean snow covered the world — it looked like tons of spilled sugar. The pine trees decorated the scene with green. I breathed deeply of the cold, fresh air. It was the first time in several months that I had felt truly free.

"Thank you," I said suddenly to Jonathan.

"For what?" he answered in surprise.

"For making me get out of bed. For talking to me like I'm a person, not a kid. For bringing me to this beautiful place." I was silent for a moment. "I know we teased you that night at the library, but there really is a big difference between you and the high school boys I've known since kindergarten. I've never had a conversation like we just had. It was refreshing — just like this wind."

Jonathan grinned with pleasure. "You're so mature, Keisha. Maybe that's why the boys your age don't appeal to you."

"One of them did," I replied quietly. "But he's gone."

"I've heard all about Andy," Jonathan said carefully. "I'm really sorry, Keisha."

"Can we take the lift back down, Jonathan? I think I'd rather just talk a little more than try to prove to you I'm bad enough to try Deception. Besides, I'm cold."

"I was just going to suggest that. Let's find the others and head back home. Monty is probably an icicle by now."

I laughed as we got back in the lift. Deception could wait.

"Keisha," Jonathan said to me when we got back to the bottom of the hill, "I really enjoyed today. Would you like to go to the movies some time? If you think it's not appropriate, just let me know."

I thought for a moment. Then I surprised myself and said, "I think I'd like that." He smiled with delight, but said nothing more as the others started to head toward us.

We gathered the rest of the group and headed back to Jonathan's wagon, tired and cold, but feeling really mellow. Monty fell asleep as soon as the car heater warmed up. The rest talked quietly about the hills and the spills of the day. Rhonda snuggled close to Tyrone. Joyelle nodded on Tyrone's other shoulder. B. J. glanced back at her and smiled. Leon looked quietly out of the window, watching the snow. Jonathan glanced at himself briefly in the rear view mirror, turned on a smooth jazz station, and we headed back to Cincinnati to the mellow sounds of the saxophone. For the first time in months, I felt like the rock where my feelings used to be was starting to dissolve. The snow had started to fall again.

Copyright © 2001 by Sharon M. Draper

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Darkness Before Dawn 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 176 reviews.
Taylor38 More than 1 year ago
I believe Darkness Before Dawn is a great book. This book is believable and realistic. I would recommend this book for young girl teens or even teens in general. It is an example of a real life situation. It teaches many of lessons and moral that parents try to teach their teens. Teens however will like this better because it is more realistic and it is coming from another person. Keisha was able to get over her boyfriend¿s death and being attacked. I think that most teenagers need to read this book, because it would help them see how Keisha deals with everything by talking to someone else. You can¿t always hide from your fear; you have to talk to someone to release all of the pain. Darkness before dawn was really good and it captured my attention from the start! It kept me wanting to read and I didn¿t want the book to be over. I enjoyed this book because it was full of real life. Most books base things on stuff that might never happen, but this book made me look at a situation like this a little harder. It talked about things that really happen and it took mature readers to a whole new level. I couldn't put this book down and I don't even like reading that much. No one will dislike this book...I promise!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read all the hazelwood high books and let me tell you this book was the best by far, with forged by fire and tears of tiger leading closely behind. Draper makes the situautions seems so..... real! And i love how everything in the books connect together. I also like how Draper added 2 new ppl in the mix, to replace the two the died obviosly. I also adore the way the books ends, with kiesha saying the poem. Lastly, i loved how all the books ended with a part of the title, so it make the title make sense. If you dont get it, read the book urself. This has been a review from a seventh grader
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this series in junior high school i still love it to this day and in 26.......highly recommend this book forged by fire and tears of a tiger......
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a good book good'ly detailed. It made me want to read more and more I wish their was another part like part 2. When you read it feels like your the one that's the protanganist ( main character). PS. Protanganist ( main character) is keisha and the angtangnist ( the problem) is johnathon. Enjoy reading!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wow first tears of a tiger and then forged by fire and now this. I cant believe it this is really interesting. The really should make a movie, it would be great!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In this thrilling novel keisha is delighted when andy and rob come back to life and they start a life together.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Book is very very interesting all teens should read it !!!!
ISTHIS_BOOKGOOD More than 1 year ago
This book is awesome for pre-teens. This book is about Keisha Montgomery. Her ex- boyfriend just commited suicide and Keisha is lonely. So, she falls for her principal's son, Jonathan Hathaway. He is twenty-three and Keisha is eighteen. Guess what? He likes her too. The climax is when he plans to take her somewhere special and he takes her to his house! He gives her non- alcholic wine. He kisses her and it goes too far. She tells him to stop. He won't, his grip on her get stronger and tighter. She says to him stop you are hurting me. He pulls out a knife and he forces her to do whatever he says. They fight. She gets the knife and slashes his face. It leaves a scar. I recommend you read this book. This book teaches the lesson of never going out with someone that is older than you. *P.S.= Jonathan Hathaway has raped more than one girl in this book.*
Anonymous 5 months ago
An reviw is for you to tell people how the book is not how it ends or who is going to win ect so stop spoiling the book in yall reviews k btw it was an excelent book recremended for ages 13 and up
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love it!
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Before i purchased this book i wasn't sure if I'd like the book, but this turned out to be one my favorite books
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I truly enjoyed tgis book. I would recommend this book to young teenagers. There are a lot if life lessons in the entire series. Sharon Draper ia an awesone writer.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book only because my son's English class was reading the series, and I wanted to know what the books contained. To my surprise, I really enjoyed this book. It has a good plot, good character development, and absolutely NO inappropriate language. As long as there is discussion by a parent (or teacher, perhaps) of the many tough topics presented in the series--drug addiction, suicide, eating disorder, pre-marital sex and (attempted)rape--it is excellent material. I do not think younger teens should read the series without oversight from a trusted adult.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It sounds like it would be a little inaprit
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Best book ever but you also have yo read forged by fire and tears of a tiger amazing books