Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Paradise Valley by Dale Cramer ~ review

Paradise Valley (The Daughters of Caleb Bender)
Product Description from Amazon.com:

An Amish settlement in Ohio has run afoul of a law requiring their children to attend public school. Caleb Bender and his neighbors are arrested for neglect, with the state ordering the children be placed in an institution. Among them are Caleb's teenage daughter, Rachel, and the boy she has her eye on, Jake Weaver. Romance blooms between the two when Rachel helps Jake escape the children's home.
Searching for a place to relocate his family where no such laws apply, Caleb learns there's inexpensive land for sale in Mexico, a place called Paradise Valley. Despite rumors of instability in the wake of the Mexican revolution, the Amish community decides this is their answer. And since it was Caleb's idea, he and his family will be the pioneers. They will send for the others once he's established a foothold and assessed the situation.
Caleb's daughters are thrown into turmoil. Rachel doesn't want to leave Jake. Her sister, Emma, who has been courting Levi Mullet, fears her dreams of marriage will be dashed. Miriam has never had a beau and is acutely aware there will be no prospects in Mexico.
Once there, they meet Domingo, a young man and guide who takes a liking to Miriam, something her father would never approve. While Paradise Valley is everything they'd hoped it would be, it isn't long before the bandits start giving them trouble, threatening to upset the fledgling Amish settlement, even putting their lives in danger. Thankfully no one has been harmed so far, anyway.
My take on this book:
My two favorite genre's to read are historical fiction, and Amish fiction, and when I realized that Dale Cramer had woven the two together to give the reader an Amish historical fiction, I had to read it.

In 1921 Ohio passes a law called the Bing act that stated All children between the ages of six and sixteen must be in school five days a week. The Amish had been sending their children to school one day a week, because they felt the education they needed couldn't be found in a consolidated school, but rather at home where they would learn to be farmers and farmers wives and learn the ways of Gott. To enforce the law and send a strong message to the Amish, in early 1922 five Amish fathers were arrested. One of the fathers that was arrested was Caleb Bender. He started praying to his Gott to show him another way, and when he finds an advertisement for cheap land in Mexico he decides this is Gott's answer and the Bender family are the first to settle in Paradise Valley, Mexico.
This story is quite different than most of the Amish that I read. Since this book is based on actual events I felt as if I was getting an education while reading fiction.The author's note at the end of the story actually tells the reader a bit about the truth behind the story. While I vaguely remember reading a little about the Bing Act, I was totally flabbergasted that the state went so far as to remove Amish children from their loving homes.
Mr. Cramer easily draws you into this story, allowing you to become connected, I found myself in awe of how the Amish adapted to their new home, and the way they interacted with their new neighbors. Because this book is  the first in a new series titled "The Daughters Of Caleb Bender,"there are a few loose ends but that only heightens the anticipation for the next book in the series.
On a scale of one to five I would rate this book a six because its just that good!

I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


  1. This sounds like a book I would like to read. I like some Amish stuff and some westerns...so maybe this would double the chance.

  2. Elle, its not your typical predictable Amish fiction, while I really enjoy all Amish fiction, this one was extra good, not to mention that I felt like I learned a bit along the way. I highly recommend this one!

  3. This sounds like a book I'd like to check out. Thanks for visiting my blog! Following you back!


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