'When the bishop calls Leah Sorensen to be Relief Society president, her first impulse is to assume he's joking. "They'd all vote against me if you put my name up," she tells him, "and I'd vote with them." She's prickly and proud, a farm widow who doesn't get along with the town women at all. Why would the Lord want her? Because it's 1932, the depth of the Great Depression, and, as the bishop tells Leah: "You lost your husband and you didn't give up. You know how to survive hard times, and some women in our ward don't. I'm not looking for a nice church lady right now. I'm looking for someone with some grit, and that's what you've got." But will grit be enough when the opposition begins?'
I've always loved books by Dean Hughes, and this one is no exception. He has a way of bringing characters to life so by the end of the book, I feel like I'm reading about people I know well. In the book Before the Dawn, Leah Sorenson is the least likely person to be Relief Society president, yet through her own life experiences and her quick tongue, she changes the way the women in town view each other, and they change the way she views herself.
The author paints a clear picture of what it might have been like to live in the depression, and still try to raise a family, find higher education for children, take care of medical expenses. The story tells how women from all walks of life need each other and shows how much we all have to give. I think what stuck out the most to me was how bitter Leah had become through as she judged others. In the end she saw the value of each of her sisters in the gospel and learned to humble herself as they saw the value in her.
This is definitely a book I'd recommend.