The Old Schoolhouse® Product & Curriculum Reviews

With so many products available we often need a little help in making our curriculum choices. The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine family understands because we are in the same boat! Do you need more information on a product before you buy? With over 5,500 products listed in 52 easy-to-use categories, much of the information you need to know is only a click away! Let our reviewer-families help yours.
Do you want to get the word out about your product or service to the homeschool community? Email Jenny Higgins and share a little about what you´d like showcased, and we can help with that!

Dawn on the Road Review by Carol Emmert

Lea Waterhouse
Crosslink Publishing
558 E Castle Pines Pkwy Ste B4117
Castle Rock, CO 80108-4608

Dawn Berlin is a 16-year-old photographer who wants to be taken seriously as a professional artist. Just after being rejected, again, by the owner of the local art gallery, Dawn is surprised to run into a friend from middle school. Justin Devenport is in town visiting friends and he and Dawn have not spoken since she gave him a sound rejection in middle school four years ago. Dawn lives in a suburb of San Diego, CA, and dreams of attending an art school in Vancouver, Canada. To Dawn, who lives with her mom and step-dad, both Ivy-League graduates, art school is just a dream. Justin sees Dawn looking over the preview weekend flyer for the art school and encourages her to chase her dream.

For the past few years Dawn and Justin have lived vastly different lives and this unusual reunion magnifies those differences. Dawn’s parents are atheists who believe this life is all you have, and Dawn thinks they might be right. Justin has given his life to Jesus and sees endless possibilities in this life, as well as hope for eternal life. Dawn is certain her parents will never grant her permission to attend the art school preview weekend because it does not line up with their plans for her future. They think of her photography as just a passing hobby until she graduates high school next year. Justin offers Dawn hope, and a ride to Vancouver on his motorcycle if she can change their thinking. Dawn deals with an inner struggle between her two worlds after telling Justin “I want more than anything in the world to have an adventurous, inspired, art-filled life” and the reality of trying to convince her parents to change their minds.

Dawn devises a plan to deceive her parents and let them think she is spending the week with her best friend Robin at her college dorm, while letting Justin believe her parents have granted their permission for the road trip. Will she find her inspiration for better photography, or will it all come crashing down around Dawn as her lies unravel?

Dawn on the road is a scant 108-page paperback. More of a novella than a novel. Although it was a quick read, I struggled with this book for two main reasons. First - it desperately needs a good editor! These 108 pages contain many errors that could have been corrected by a copy editor in one read-through. Besides the sentences that do not flow well, have an incorrect word - her for here as an example, or extra words, like border twice in the same clause, I struggled with the consistency of Dawn’s step-dad’s name. He is called Ralph at least eleven times during the book, but on pages 26, 32, and 34 the text reads “mom and Roger.” I am hoping these were noticed already by an earlier reader and have been corrected in the eBook version.

The second reason I struggled with this book is the content. Although I found it marketed as a young adult book, I would not recommend it to anyone under 17. Most young adult fiction is marketed for ages 14 and up. Why my concern? Dawn’s character is written as a very worldly teenage atheist. She shares her constant thoughts about her physical attraction to Justin and her frequent thoughts about the possibility of having sex with him. Thanks to Justin’s commitment to Christ, nothing blatantly sexual actually happens during their trip up the coast, but since this book was published by Crosslink Publishers, a self- proclaimed “small, family owned Christian Publishing Company” I found the sexual references over the top and inappropriate for a sound adult Christian audience.

Not everything in the story is bad. Although Dawn is portrayed as the heroine struggling against her domineering parents, by the end of the story she must face the consequences of her lies and poor choices. It ends as a story about redemption, there is just a lot of stuff for the reader to get through to arrive at the point where Dawn realized she is wrong in her thinking and actions.

I could recommend this book for those who wish to give the book to their non-Christian friends or relatives ages 16 and up that like adventure, road trips or art as a way to reach out to them. Hopefully discussing the book would open some doors to talk about how our plans for our lives do not always line up with God’s plans. Discussing the book would offer a chance to talk about how God longs to redeem us, especially after our big mistakes. Use this book to plant a seed and open a door to discuss your faith.

-Product review by Carol Emmert, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, May, 2017