Dale Cramer Offers More Brilliant Writing with New Amish Trilogy
Yet Paradise Valley isn’t your average bonnet book. A prequel to Dale’s acclaimed Levi’s Will, the story was inspired by a casual conversation with his father about the place of his father’s birth. “My father was born and raised Old Order Amish,” says Cramer. “I knew he was born in a colony in Mexico, but I never really knew why they were there in the first place.” The answer stoked his curiosity, and instinct told him here was a story worth telling.
The author’s research soon revealed a fascinating piece of Amish history: a struggle between church and state. In the 1920s a new Ohio law, created in part to prevent child labor, began forcing Amish children to attend public schools. If families resisted, the children were removed from the home and stripped of their Amish lifestyle. With their entire way of life threatened, a portion of that community, including Cramer’s ancestors, found religious sanctuary in the mountains of Mexico—at a beautiful place called Paradise Valley.
“I learned that my great-grandfather was the elder statesman of the colony, and he had seven daughters and two sons,” says Cramer. This information set the author’s imagination ablaze. His speculations on what it must have been like for his ancestors—as they traveled from Ohio to settle in post-revolution Mexico—solidified into the story of Caleb Bender and his daughters’ journey.
But in true Cramer fashion, the novel goes far beyond its interesting and realistic characters; the story also explores important life questions. Cramer says that the main question he kept asking himself while writing the story was: How should Christians react when their home structure and lifestyle are threatened by the state? Through his characters, he explores the potential perspectives people can have and what the consequences might be to their different reactions.
Never highlighting one thing as the answer, Cramer instead hopes to offer a story that will inspire and challenge. “My highest aim is to write a parable, where readers come away saying, ‘I never really thought about it like that.’ ” And he succeeds, crafting a powerful story around little-known moments in his family and the Amish people’s history.
In 1921, a new Ohio law forces an Amish community to drastically change its way of life—or have their children taken from them. To protect his family, his friends, and their beliefs, one man urges the community to seek religious sanctuary in Mexico.
But when the journey doesn’t go as planned, three sisters wonder if what lies ahead is worse than what they left behind. With their lives—and hearts—already on the line, will Paradise Valley live up to its name?
Memorable and captivating, Paradise Valley is a stunning tale of love, danger, and redeeming faith that will resonate with fans of Amish fiction as well as those new to the genre.