BOOK FUN MAGAZINE - FREE READ

CFBA Tour - PARADISE VALLEY by DALE CRAMER - REVIEWED



This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Paradise Valley
Bethany House (January 1, 2011)
by
Dale Cramer

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Dale Cramer was the second of four children born to a runaway Amishman turned soldier and a south Georgia sharecropper's daughter. His formative years were divided between far-flung military bases, but he inherited his mother's sense of place—

He took on small construction projects at night to help make ends meet— "and to preserve the remainder of my sanity," he says. While building an office in the basement of a communications consultant, a debate over labor/management relations turned into an article on mutualism which found its way into an international business magazine. It was Dale's first published article, and he liked the feel of it. He bought books, studied technique, and began participating in an online writers' forum, writing during the boys' naps and after they went to bed at night. Before long he was publishing short stories in literary magazines and thinking about writing a book.

Three storylines vied for Dale's attention when he finally decided to write a novel. His first two choices were commercially viable secular stories, and a distant third appeared to be some kind of Christian saga about a broken-down biker. The process of determining which novel to write was settled by a remarkable encounter with his youngest son, a lost set of keys, and God. His sense of direction was suddenly clarified. In 1997, Dale began work on Sutter's Cross, which was eventually published in 2003.

His second novel, Bad Ground (July 2004), while it is not autobiographical, contains a great deal of material drawn from his own experience as a construction electrician.

He and his wife and two sons make their home in northern Georgia.
ABOUT THE BOOK

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 childrens 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.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Paradise Valley, go HERE.
 
REVIEW
PARADISE VALLEY

By Dale Cramer
Published by Bethany House
ISBN# 978-0-7642-0838-6
359 Pages

Back Cover: 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.

Review: I have loved Levi’s Will, a gripping novel written in a Amish males point of view, so when I heard Dale Cramer was doing a prequel to it, I jumped at the chance to receive a review copy. Dale used real events as a backdrop for his new story that caught my interest and made me realize how much America has changed over the years in our education department. In 1921, five Amish fathers were arrested for neglect of their children. The Bing Act of 1920 stated all children in Holmes County, Ohio needed to go to school or parents would be arrested. The Amish men stayed in jail until the government started heating things up to force their case by taking away their children and putting them in foster care. It’s unthinkable in a day and age when homeschooling is thriving.

So what do these men do to save their way of life? Caleb is willing to check out another place to live. They wanted to look outside the USA because laws were bound to get passed in all 50 states eventually - then an opportunity opened up outside the states. Mexico. It looked great at ten dollars per acre. So, Caleb volunteers his family to be pioneers in a new land. He’ll scout out the terrain and its people, then report back to the Amish community.

Caleb discovers lush farming soil and Mexican people as varied as their languages. Then there are rumors of bandits. They meet Domingo, a young man who takes the Amish family under his wing and guides them through this new world they know nothing about. Paradise Valley could be their new home forever if only the bandits would stop giving them trouble. They were a peace loving people who would not fight for their possessions...even if it meant fighting for one of their daughters. They would trust God in all things, that would not change.

I’ve enjoy Dale’s books, because he is so very passionate about writing and gets to the heart of the matter in his novels. This book is no exception. Dale’s father lived in an Amish community as a boy and left when he got older. So, Dale has family connections that come out in his stories and help him in writing about their customs. This trilogy is inspired by historical events I found interesting. You’ll definitely want to know what happened to Caleb and his family on their journey to make a living in this foreign land. I know I did!

Nora St.Laurent
The Book Club Network
www.bookfun.org

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