‘Before the Dawn’ Emphasizes a Woman’s Trials

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    By Alex Ingersoll

    “Before the Dawn,” a new novel written by BYU English professor Dean Hughes, emphasizes the struggle of overcoming life”s adversities. “Before the Dawn” is set in Utah”s Uintah Basin during the Great Depression of the 1930s, and chronicles a callous widow who is called to serve as Relief Society president — a trial she couldn”t want less.

    “I really believe that when people go through hard times they get down to basics and focus on what is important,” Hughes said. “It occurred to me that a lot of the lessons about life learning we learn from our parents and grandparents.”

    Hughes has written more than 90 books, many of them historical novels about World War II and the 1960s. It then occurred to him that he hadn”t written about the Great Depression — a destitute time when he said many fore-bearers learned hard working lessons that people today should remember to incorporate.

    Above all, Hughes said he loves the joy he finds through the creative process of thinking up characters. After all, it is Hughes” sensational characterization of the widow Leah that makes this story special.

    “To me, writing is more about creating characters,” Hughes said. “I love Leah as a person because she represents the struggle we all face to be decent people: she”s wrapped up in the problems she”s had and then is asked to give more.”

    Hughes said his writing is never intended to instill a specific doctrine or set of morals on his readers but to raise questions through his writing. “Before the Dawn” focuses on lessons of humility and community support for individuals.

    “I can”t get away from the idea that people ought to look out for each other,” he said.

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