In First Dawn by Judith Miller, Esekiel Harban wanted what every former slave wanted--an opportunity to farm his own land and to build a better future for his three daughters. When he got word of a newly segregated town in Nicodemus, Kansas, he was all too eager to pack up what little belongings he and his family had and join the wagon train. Little could have prepared them for what they found upon arrival. They were promised a new beginning, fully equipped with everything they would need to embark on their new lives. What they got was a rude awakening.
Dr. Samuel Boyle, a white physician from Kentucky, was also eager to begin a new life in the Kansas frontier. Tired of witnessing the mistreatment of blacks he, too, decides to uproot his family and settle in Hill City, another newly established town not too far from Nicodemus. When Dr. Boyle learns of the dire situation in Nicodemus, he soon finds himself doing everything he can to assist former slaves and eventually forms friendships with the town's settlers.
My overall opinion of this book is somewhat divided. The author does a good job of staying true to the time period, as well as to her characters. I also liked the overall setup of the book and how the chapters flowed together. What didn't appeal to me was how awkward some of the dialogue sounded, and how certain phrases in the book kept repeating themselves. Miller also tends to give character information all at once, instead of letting it slowly unfold before the reader as the story progresses. The philosophy of "show me by their actions, rather than tell me" allows the readers not to feel that they are being spoken down to. If you are a frequent historical fiction reader, then you may enjoy this book. If this is your first time reading this type of book, then I would not recommend it. -- Audrey Wagel, Christian Book Previews.com
From the coauthor of the BELLS OF LOWELL and LIGHTS OF LOWELL series with Tracie Peterson
Lured by the promise of true freedom, a thriving community, and land to call their own, sharecroppers Ezekiel Harban and his three daughters set off for Nicodemus, Kansas. When their wagon train arrives, they are shocked at what they find, and many give up and head back home. But Ezekiel's family is determined to build a new life in spite of the disappointments.
Dr. Samuel Boyle and his family also are drawn by the wonderful potential of the Kansas frontier. When the Boyles settle in nearby Hill City, the struggling people of Nicodemus get word of a doctor in the neighboring community and seek his help.
As the lives of the Harban and Boyle families intersect, the two communities begin an enduring bond that seeks to bring the promises of the past to fulfillment.