Book Review: Paradise Valley by Dale Cramer

Publisher: Bethany House
Publication Date: January 1, 2011

Synopsis of Book as provided by publisher:

I would do a great many things for you." Even at sixteen, Jake's handsome features hold the calm certainty and patient confidence of a man, and Rachel Bender knows--Jake Weaver is the one.

Rachel will grow into a strong young woman with powerful gifts—but in a faraway country, without her Jake. In 1921, Ohio's new law forces Caleb Bender's family to seek sanctuary in the wilds of Mexico where the government will not interfere with their Amish way of life, or take their children from them. Nor will it protect them from the bandits terrorizing the countryside.

In an unfamiliar land where no one speaks their language or knows their ways, the Benders establish a homestead in exile. Sisters Emma, Rachel, and Miriam find strengths unimagined, gifts unexpected, and yearning beyond their deepest dreams. Even steadfast Caleb is compelled to wrestle with the demands of faith, only to discover that love has its own demands.


Readers who enjoy Amish fiction and those who enjoy any historical fiction are in for a special treat with Cramer's latest novel, Paradise Valley. The author has a unique ability to create true-to-life characters that leap straight off the page and into your heart. His writing is simply a pleasure to read and savour, providing rich detail without getting bogged down. I found the story moved at a brisk pace, filled with drama and adventure and providing a fascinating look at a people and situation based on real life events.

Caleb's faith is inspiring as he seeks to hear God's voice and be obedient. As a parent, I could fully relate to his desire to see his children be raised in a godly manner. The opening chapters where the children are taken and the fathers arrested because they will not send them to secular public school are just heartbreaking, and you cannot help but feel impassioned by the injustice of the situation. I greatly enjoyed reading about the family's move to Mexico and their industrious spirit that allowed them to start over and not only survive but overcome in a new culture while facing unexpected threats to their lives.

The power of forgiveness and the beauty of a deep-rooted faith in God simply permeate this story and left me feeling uplifted. The only part I disliked about this story was coming to the end...and knowing I have to wait to see how the tale will continue in the next book in the series! I truly believe that the wait will be worth it. I highly recommend this novel and give it 5 out of 5 stars.

My sincerest thanks to the publisher, Bethany House, who provided a copy of this book for the purposes of this unbiased review.