Mira, Apr 2003, 24.95, 384 pp.
After living for the past fifteen years in New Zealand and photographing much of the world, Jessie Ryder returns to her hometown of Edenville, Texas near Austin. Jessie suffers from a debilitating illness that will leave her blind, so she needs to see her biological daughter Lila one last time. Years ago Jessie became pregnant after making love to Ian Benning, who later met, fell in love with, and married her sister Luc. Jessie hid the father's identity from everyone and her newly married sister and husband adopted Lila and loved her as their own.
Jessie wants Ian and Luc to tell Lila the truth about whom is her biological mother. As the trio struggles with what is best for Lila, the teen engages in hill hopping which leads to the death of another passenger. Meanwhile, Jessie falls in love with widower neighbor Dusty Matlock and his little girl. However, Jessie does not trust relationships so as she loses her sight she flees, but not before the Bennings tell Lila the truth.
HOME BEFORE DARK is an engaging relationship novel that contains a delightful extended cast. Much of the tale focuses on Jessie, yet readers also learn about the other key characters. Although why Jessie felt that Lila had to know the truth is never fully explained, the audience will savor this warm modern day family drama.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner