Review

Wake the Dawn

by Lauraine Snelling

It’s been two years, but Ben James is still reeling from the tragic death of his wife, killed in a traffic accident when she swerved to miss a deer. After the accident, Ben turned from his faith and found comfort in a bottle --- a bottle that soon enslaved him. His days now run together in a blur of drinking and working his job on the border patrol, two activities he never blends.

Esther Hanson has demons of her own. A highly skilled physician’s attendant in a rural area near the Minnesota-Canada border, she battles the emotional and physical symptoms of PTSD. Her small clinic is underfunded, understaffed and lacks the equipment necessary to serve the small community of Pineville. Esther perseveres, however, losing herself in her work just like Ben loses himself in booze.

"WAKE THE DAWN is an action-packed story with a well-developed plot, a host of likable and realistically flawed characters, and an interesting setting. I liked the way the characters got to know and care about each other as they dealt with the storm and abandoned baby."

When an unprecedented storm rages through their area, it brings Ben and Esther together to save the life of an abandoned baby and countless injured residents. But more than that rides the storm, as Ben and Esther face gut-wrenching challenges, the realities of their past, and eventually an unexpected hope for the future. In WAKE THE DAWN, author Lauraine Snelling artfully uses a catastrophe to initiate the healing process in two damaged souls.

With trees crashing to the ground, broken electric wires whipping dangerously in the wind, rooftops ripped from houses and a wild river washing cars from roads, Esther and Ben have their hands full. Adding to the storm’s chaos is Ben’s discovery of a newborn Asian baby in the woods, likely abandoned by illegals crossing the border from Canada. Ben’s rescue dog, Bo, leads him to the infant girl, who immediately steals the hearts of both man and dog. 

In a continually fast-paced tale, Ben and Esther patch up the sick and injured while dealing with a severe lack of resources, sleep and food. Meanwhile, Ben keeps the baby, now named Dawn, at his house, where a couple with another newborn are also staying. With each passing day, Ben falls more in love with Dawn, fearing she will be taken from him and placed in foster care. She is a more powerful source of comfort and healing than he ever found in a bottle, and for her sake, he has given up drinking. As his feelings grow for Dawn, so too do his feelings for Esther. He knows she is suffering from PTSD and is determined to find its root and help her overcome it.

Esther secretly reciprocates Ben’s feelings, but fears her PTSD will prevent her from having a relationship with him, just as it prevented her from becoming a full-fledged doctor. Facing the cause of her disorder seems far too overwhelming, but Esther will discover that she doesn’t have to do it alone.

WAKE THE DAWN is an action-packed story with a well-developed plot, a host of likable and realistically flawed characters, and an interesting setting. I liked the way the characters got to know and care about each other as they dealt with the storm and abandoned baby. However, I felt it was paced like a raging river that never slowed enough for the reader to inhale before heading back into whitewater rapids. Additionally, I was frustrated by the overuse of characters making and drinking coffee. It seemed to pop up approximately every three paragraphs throughout the book, almost as often as characters saying “Thank God” or “Thank the Lord.” Though I’m a fan of coffee and a bigger fan of expressing appreciation to God, the repetition of these, in my opinion, detracted from an otherwise well-written novel.

Reviewed by Susan Miura on August 13, 2013

Wake the Dawn
by Lauraine Snelling