Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Paradise Valley

Paradise Valley (The Daughters of Caleb Bender)Mia's home from school today. Yesterday while outside for recess, she slipped on the ice and struck her head on the pavement. They gave her an ice pack and sent her through the rest of the day without even informing me. I only found out when she got off of the bus complaining of the bump on the back of her head. This morning when she woke up, her neck is very stiff, and she says that her head feels like a bowling ball. I'm a bit disappointed in our normally terrific school district and am keeping a close eye on Mia to see if we'll have to bring her in to the doctor.

Paradise Valley by Dale Cramer is the first book in the Daughters of Caleb Bender series. When Caleb Bender and four other Amish men are arrested in 1922 Ohio for failing to send their children to school, he decides that he needs to do something to keep his children safe from the Enlgisch influence. After seeing a flyer for land for sale in Mexico, he uproots his entire family as an advance crew to see if the land is truly farmable and the area safe for the rest of the community to move to as well. He brings along with him married daughter Mary and her husband, newly married daughter Emma and husband Levi, as well as teenage sons Harvey and Aaron, teenage daughters Miriam and Rachel, and younger daughters, Leah and Barbara. Rachel is heartbroken at having to leave, just when she has discovered that neighbor and lifelong friend Jake Weaver is the one for her. Based on the true story of the author's great-grandparents, Cramer effortlessly brings to life the unusual story about a family starting all over again in a new land filled with bandits and fear. Dale Cramer is in a rare level of authors for me: I anxiously await each of his books. It doesn't matter what he's writing: profound allegory? Amish drama? sweet family story? Doesn't matter. His writing is always spot-on to the genre, wonderfully literary and smart, complex multi-layered plots, and characters that are fully-fleshed. With such a large cast of characters in this book, not all of the characters are as fully realized here, but the story is compelling and readers will find themselves waiting anxiously (just as I do) for the next book in the series.

Thank you to the author for providing me with a copy of this book for review!