I recently received Paradise Valley by Dale Cramer from Bethany House to review. It was one of the best books I have read in a while. I chose it as a book I would like to review because I really respect the Amish. This book is based on events in the 1920’s when the state of Ohio jailed some Amish dad’s for not sending their kids to the government run consolidated school. As a result, some of the Ohio Amish community seek freedom to raise their kids in the Amish way by moving to Mexico. Mr. Cramer shows how they stick to their beliefs and are willing to sacrifice for them. He shows their love of family and their willingness to work hard. After reading this book, I respect the Amish even more.
The story is focused on one family- The Benders. The Benders have been blessed with 13 children (one dead and one mentally challenged) but not all are equally fleshed out in the story. It focuses on the father, Caleb, and his 15-year-old daughter, Rachel. Though these two are the focus of the story you get glimpses in to the thoughts of many of the other characters.
One thing that I liked about the writing was Mr. Cramer’s truthful style. Strengths and weaknesses are given to all of the characters. He doesn’t sugar coat the harsh realities of the struggles the Benders face, yet this isn’t a heavy book that weighs down the soul. It is almost as though he has opened a window to Paradise Valley as it really was.
This is a first book in a new series about Caleb Bender’s daughters. I read the whole thing in a couple of days. I cared about the characters and wanted to see what happened to them. I also wanted to learn why they made the choices they made. I am really looking forward to the next one!