Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A book about the Amish in Mexico

Paradise Valley by Dale Cramer

Not your typical Amish fiction.

This story is based on actual events from the author’s family history. Had I not known that before I read this, I would have doubted the accuracy of an Amish community in Mexico.  It's not something I had ever considered.

It begins in an Amish community in Ohio in the early 1920’s.  New child endangerment laws have been enacted as a result of the industrial revolution.  The Amish are told that if they do not send their children to the public schools they will be arrested.  They are also told that their children may not work on their farms.  The fathers are arrested and the children are removed from their homes and placed in a children’s home.  Eventually the fathers decide that the choice between their children spending a few hours a day “in the world” at public school is better than them being raised in “worldly” foster homes all the time.  In order to escape this persecution, they decide to move their community to a different country, much like their ancestors did.  Caleb and his family are the first to move to Mexico where they are exposed to strange and new things that challenge their faith.

Amid the lush and productive landscape they encounter racism, language barriers, bandits, rattlesnakes and scorpions.

The land is everything they hoped it would be, lush, productive, and beautiful. However, they were not expecting the lawlessness they encounter.  The threat of physical harm to Caleb’s daughters forces him to examine his faith and his pacifist beliefs. 

The story is told primarily through daughters Rachel’s and Miriam’s eyes.  Rachel has had to leave the young man she loves and Miriam develops feelings for a young Mexican man.

I had a couple of problems with this book. First, it is definitely a prelude to the upcoming remaining books of the series.  It seemed unfinished.  Secondly, I had a very hard time connecting with the characters.  I didn’t feel what they were feeling, it didn’t draw me in to their lives.

I’ll probably read the other books in the series when they come out, but only because I’m mildly interested to find out if Miriam and Domingo’s relationship develops further and if the community survives the move.

While I enjoyed reading about the setting and culture of Mexico, I can’t say that I loved this book.  I give it a 3 out of 5 rating.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from BethanyHouse through their book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

1 comment:

  1. I just found you by accident. I am reading this book right now and googled "Amish in Mexico"...am surprised to see that it is based on an actual family and events I didn't realize they moved that far South...


Dear friends, I love to hear from you! Please leave me a comment. But remember, keep it clean and if you could post in English so I can read it, I'd appreciate it!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...