Darkness Before Dawn by Sharon Draper
Accelerated Reader: Level: 4.8. Pts. 8
Chapters 1-4 (10 Questions)


KLIATT: Grades 9-Up. 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.