Tuesday, May 10, 2011
I just finished reading Paradise Valley by Dale Cramer, the bestselling author of Levi's Will. This is the first work of Amish fiction I have read, and I thoroughly enjoyed the book. The book was inspired by actual events. In the early 1920's five Amish fathers were arrested in Ohio for violating the Bing Act - a law that required them to send their children to the public school. The children were taken from their homes and placed in a children's home where their hair was cut and their Amish clothes were confiscated. Later, the families moved to a place called Paradise Valley in Mexico where they were able to live as they wished according to their religion.
While the historical context of this book is mostly accurate, the characters and their stories are fictitious. Rachel Bender is forced to move with her family to Mexico, where the government will not interfere with their Amish way of life. They have to start over in an unfamiliar land where no one speaks their language or knows their way of life. The Benders also have to learn to live in a land full of dangerous bandits. The most difficult part of this move for Rachel is that right before she left Ohio, she discovered her feelings for Jake Weaver. Now, she has to live without him.
This is a tale of family, love, danger, and faith. If you like historical fiction or love stories, I definitely recommend this book. When I really enjoy a book, I tend to get very wrapped up in the characters. Well, I have been fantasizing about life as an Amish woman since reading this, so I think it's fair to say that I loved the book.
*I received my copy of this book free from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated in any other way. My opinion is in no way influenced by the free book.