In the early 1970s, Laura Bauer decides to leave college and head fifty miles north of her comfortable Atlanta home to manage a federally funded project aiding pregnant teenagers from the back roads of Appalachia. Almost as young as her clients, Laura is immediately confronted with—and almost overwhelmed by—a variety of young women in desperate circumstances, having no other source of prenatal care.
When Nighttime Shadows Fall, Diane Michael Cantor's second novel, portrays the world of these girls with compassion, hardscrabble humor, and reverence for their families' capacities to prevail despite hardships. Among the characters are Mavis, a defiant, tough-as-nails preacher's daughter; Lisa, a victimized thirteen-year-old; Nell, a shy girl who is constantly berated by herdomineering mother; and self-conscious Mandy, whose proud husband, twice her age, detests any form of charity. As an outsider whose urban upbringing is vastly different from those of her clients, Laura must win their trust and overcome her own inexperience and the magnitude of the need she finds.
The novel follows Laura as she struggles to locate her clients during their first trimesters, when they are still eligible for the project's services but often trying to conceal their pregnancies. As she overcomes their suspicions and tries to help them during those first critical months, Laura comes to realize she has prepared at least a few of them to open doors to their unexpected futures, just as they have helped her find the determination to face her own.
When Nighttime Shadows Fall movingly portrays Laura's clients as they search for love from boyfriends, husbands, and babies. Some find it, but ultimately, through powerful revelations, their strength comes from within.