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Review of Past Darkness

Title:  Past Darkness
Author:  Laurel Woiwode
Pages:  174
Year:  2013
Publisher:  Crossway
                How do you deal with grief?  Past Darkness is the story of a young teenager’s grief and how she deals with her emotions connected to this grief.  This is an excellent book and well worth the reader’s time invested in reading it.
                Gabrielle Larson is 15 years old, an only child, and living the life of her dreams.  She and her parents love music and perform at churches, seminars and conferences.  Her parents view this as their ministry.  Gabrielle loves being on stage and receiving the accolades.  They live in Chicago; she loves the city.  Then, tragedy strikes and Gabrielle finds herself alone.  Her aunt and uncle come to town and move her with them to North Dakota.  They live on a ranch and Gabrielle thinks it is the end of the world.  She is the child her aunt and uncle never could have.  They enroll her in school; teach her about the ranch and her aunt takes her on veterinarian calls.
                As her life progresses, Gabrielle has no friends in school or elsewhere.  She doesn’t want to be socially involved in anything.  She gets good grades and that is all she cares about.  She has outbursts of anger at home every now and again, but she keeps everything inside.  She goes off to college, but still holds herself at a distance from everyone.  She visits her aunt and uncle less and less.  She starts her career as a veterinarian.  She has never had a boyfriend and doesn’t want one.  She is alone and has convinced herself that is how she likes it.  She never ever has anything to do with music because of the painful memories it brings up.  Through all this time, however, she would admit secretly to herself how alone she really is, but doesn’t know how to fix things.  She hasn’t spoken to God in a long time.  Would He even hear her prayer at this point?
                She is invited to hear a musician play his violin.  She is mesmerized by his playing and the music he makes.  She experiences an emotional and spiritual awakening during the concert.  She develops a strong friendship with Ian, the musician.  She begins to be more friendly and welcoming to other people in her life.  She begins to listen to music again, and all along, she gives thanks to God for her about face.  She re-establishes a relationship with Him.  She is a new person, transformed.
                I have never read such a book as this.  One minute I was crying tears of grief and then some pages later I was crying tears of thankfulness and joy.  The ability of this author to engage my emotions with her talent is a God-given talent.  This is a wonderful story of redemption, grace and forgiveness.  What I’ve mentioned above is just the bare surface.  The book goes into more depth.  The characters are so well-developed and lifelike.  They share their past mistakes and admit their wrong deeds and/or attitudes to try to teach someone else to learn from their mistakes.  I highly recommend this book!
                My rating is 5 stars.
Note:  I received a complimentary copy for an honest review of this book.  The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility.  Other reviews can be read at .  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at
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