Thursday, May 19, 2011
“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.
When a law is passed in 1921 Ohio that requires all children to attend public school, Caleb Bender goes to jail rather than send his children to an English school. When he is finally released, he realizes that he can't stay in a place where his beliefs are challenged and he has no rights in regards to his family. Learning about a lush farming valley for sale in Mexico, Caleb makes the decision to move. His daughter Rachel, nearly courting age, is distraught to leave behind the love of her life, Jake Weaver. But, trusting that God will provide and trusting that her father is doing the right thing, she joins her family in their exodus.
Mexico is wild, untamed and dangerous with marauding bandits. And, as the Bender family struggles to create a new home, they discover dangers and difficulties they could only imagine. They must prepare the way for other Amish families to follow and they must continue to adhere to their faith, on their own, without a preacher or a church. As they work together they also discover hidden strengths and a new understanding about faith in God.
Wow. This is not your typical Amish fiction. This is such a compelling story and one I didn't want to end. I loved these characters and I cannot wait to find out what happens to each of them. They are well developed, believable and even complex in their thoughts and personalities. Rachel, Emma and Miriam, especially, are terrific.
This story of Amish settlements in Paradise Valley, Mexico is based on historical fact. Dale Cramer has taken what facts are known and created a fictional masterpiece. I didn't want to put it down and now I'm anxiously awaiting the next book in the series. This one says it's Book 1 in The Daughters of Caleb Bender series, so I seriously hope there are more books coming and soon.
Thanks to Bethany House for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Dale Cramer here. You can purchase your own copy here.
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