Back Before Dark is the second in Tim Shoemaker’s Code of Silence series. I haven’t read Code of Silence, but it’s not necessary for this book. A word of warning: If you do plan to read Code of Silence, then you’ll want to read it first because Back Before Dark does contain spoilers for the first story. Not intentionally, just as the characters remember past events/emotions.
Three friends watch helpless as their forth friend, Gordy, is abducted from a park by a sicko in a minivan. The story that unfolds is about trying to find and rescue him, and what happens as the hours turn into days. Will they find him? Is he even still alive? And what kind of risks are you willing to take to get your best friend back?
Theology/themes: Plenty to choose from…
What makes a true friend? Do they keep you from walking into trouble or go with you when you do? Or is a true friend the one that never gives up?
Coop is willing to do anything to get his best friend and cousin, Gordy, back after he is abducted. Lunk’s got Coop’s back, no matter what. Hiro, the voice of reason, worries about protecting Cooper from himself as he takes greater and greater risks on his search. The story is all about showing good friendship, but there’s telling too—in “A Word From the Author” at the back of the book when he discusses how to be a good Christian friend through difficult circumstances.
As a parent, the actions of the teenage characters make me want to keep my kids at home under lock and key until they’re parents themselves. I appreciate that Tim Shoemaker takes the time to point out when to go along with a friend’s crazy plans, and when to intervene.
What is your motivation? Back Before Dark looks at the difference between be motivated by guilt, revenge, or love. Can you guess which motivator is strongest?
Does God exist?
Coop believes in God and knows He can trust Him, but has a bad habit of taking matters into his own hands.
Lunk thinks that if God exists He’s doing a lousy job. How can a good God let bad things happen to good people?
Our kidnapper knows God doesn’t exist, and if He did, He’d have more important things to do than listen to some kids asking for favors.
Tim Shoemaker’s belief in a sovereign God is woven into the matrix of this book with deft balance.
Rating/Social issues: PG-13 for subject matter
Back Before Dark deals with the kidnapping of a junior high school student and all that goes with that situation. There is no sex, sexual innuendos, or gratuitous violence, but there are references to sex offenders. You don’t know until the very end whether Gordy will make it back alive.
The only negative is that Back Before Dark is a little long for a young adult novel—362 pages. It’s well worth the read, and there’s even a section at the end of the book that discusses how to prevent being abducted and what to do if you are.
Do you know anyone who was kidnapped or went missing? I do not, but there were two girls at my husband’s high school that disappeared and never returned (back in the 90’s). A parent’s worst nightmare.