Darkness Before Dawn

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Darkness Before Dawn
Author Sharon M. Draper
Country United States
Language English
Series Hazelwood Trilogy
Subject Date Rape
Genre Realistic fiction
Publisher Atheneum Books
Publication date
1 Feb 2001
Media type Print-
Pages 272 pp
ISBN 0-689-83080-7
Preceded by Tears of a Tiger, Forged by Fire

Darkness Before Dawn is a realistic young adult novel by author Sharon M. Draper. The novel is the final installment in the Hazelwood High trilogy. It was first published in 2001.

Plot summary[edit]

Keisha Montgomery is still recovering from her ex-boyfriend's, Andy Jackson, suicide after she broke up with him. While having the support of her friends and family, she still finds it hard to move on. She joins the track team and there meets Jonathan Hathaway, the coach, and principal's son. During a track meeting, a girl named Rita, begins arguing with Jonathan. He denies what they were talking about and after shouting some choice curse words, she runs into the woods never to return to school.

Over time, he begins to smooth talk her and they finally become a couple. Her parents disapprove of him being 5 years older and forbid her to see him. Against their wishes, she continues to see him discreetly. Her friends attempt to warn her about his true ways but she refuses to listen to them. Leon, a friend with feelings for Keisha, also tries to warn her.

Ignoring everyone's warnings, she uses Leon to cover up her tracks when Jonathan asks her to the dance. After the dance, Jonathan takes Keisha to his apartment and he attempts to engage in a sexual moment with her. After seeing her refusal to 'cooperate', Jonathan attempts to force her with a knife. Keisha cuts him and eventually manages to escape. She seeks the help of a homeless woman who sees her running in the snow.(Keisha helped the homeless woman earlier in the book) The woman takes Keisha in and defrosts her and gives Keisha a phone to call her parents.

Finally safe in her home, she tells her parents her experience and apologizes. She also notes her refusal to attend school, as she feels ashamed. After weeks of absences Rita comes back and tells she has experienced some of the same things as Keisha but she didn't escape. Later Principal Hathaway tells her that he has resigned and that Jonathan did come to him that night. He then sent him to live with relatives in a different state and tried to pick up another teenage girl. That girl then pressed charges and landed him in jail. Feeling relieved that Jonathan is in jail and comforted by her true friends she returns to school and Keisha graduates with the rest of her friends.


Kirkus Reviews wrote "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."[2]


  1. ^ "Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers". www.ala.org. American Library Association. Retrieved 15 July 2015. 
  2. ^ "Darkness Before Dawn". www.kirkusreviews.com. Kirkus Media LLC. 1 December 2000. Retrieved 15 July 2015.