(Book review) The Daughters of Caleb Bender Series (Books 1-3)

Reviewed by: Virginia Peterson

Ministry Title: former church librarian, Rochester, N.Y.


Title: The Daughters of Caleb Bender Series (Book 1: Paradise Valley; Book 2: The Captive Heart; Book 3: Though Mountains Fall)

Author: Dale Cramer

Publisher: Bethany House

Publication Date: 2013

Format: available in print, ebook, and audio

Length: 350 pages


Unlike most Amish fiction, this series does not center on romantic relationships, although they are certainly present. Taking place in the 1920s, and with some basis in history, the story follows the life of an Ohio Amishman named Caleb Bender. Because of conflict with state authorities requiring that his children attend public school, he decides to take his family to settle in Mexico, as the vanguard of a proposed new settlement. The land is fertile and the climate pleasant, but they soon learn that other conditions can make life difficult. There are harassing bandits, a distant government, officials wanting bribes, a deadly disease epidemic, a daughter in love with a Mexican, no minister present to perform church functions and weddings, and stress caused by the Amish belief in non-violence. Will the settlement survive, even as more families join them?


Rating (1 to 5)

5 stars

Suggested Audience

Older teens and adults – this series may even appeal to men.

Christian Impact

Although some of the characters’ struggles result from their distinctive Amish beliefs, they are similar to situations that any Christian can be faced with, as we wrestle with how to interact with the culture around us. There may be more violence and scary scenes than in a typical Amish novel.


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About Evangelical Church Library Association

The Evangelical Church Library Association, founded in 1970, is a fellowship of Christian churches, schools, and individuals.

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