One More Time for Joy (Paradise Valley)

Image of One More Time for Joy (Paradise Valley)
Release Date: 
March 28, 2023
Reviewed by: 

The Amish community of Paradise Valley, Missouri, is the setting where local widows share their bond of grief and faith in the “Whoopie Pie Widow’s Club.” Taking on the sole responsibility of caring for her four children is tedious, so member Joy Lehman missed many meetings since losing her beloved husband, Rudy. Then when her oldest son, Johnny B, falls from the loft in the barn and sustains injuries that may prevent him from ever walking again, Joy finds free moments are scarce. 

Johnny B is morose after being relegated to sleep in the living room for he is unable to climb the stairs to the room he shares with his younger brother, Chris. This causes more tension in the household. Joy not only worries about him, but she tends to coddle him, too, something no 18-year-old young man wants. Losing his ability to navigate is horrendous enough, but having his bedroom out in the open and among all the family members is depressing.

Chris doesn’t like this situation either, for he is now moody and hostile, and insists everyone call him “Topher”—the last half of his name. Joy does not like this, but what can she do? With so much to contend with, after Rudy's death, she needs to support herself and her children. She opens a bakery—a popular one—which keeps her extremely busy. She loves baking, but between her business and caring for her family, her life is not her own. No wonder she is wrung out and under constant stress. Thank goodness, her oldest daughter Leah helps in any way she can, taking some of the burdens off Joy. And, her youngest, Jane, never complains or causes any fuss, for which Joy is grateful.

Joy loves her independence and fiercely guards it, even with all the duties she sets for herself though she is constantly fatigued. Proud her business is doing well without relying on others, she lives by the power of her faith and is determined Johnny B will walk again, though the doctors think differently.

When Rudy’s brother, Uriah, offers to add a bedroom addition to the house for Johnny B to guarantee his own space and privacy, Joy is against it. Not only would it be expensive, but her pride will not allow her to accept his offer; she can take care of her family by herself. However,  Uriah owns a lumber yard and can attain the materials at cost. He feels the need to help her for his brother’s sake. 

Uriah too, suffered a loss when his wife passed from cancer, leaving him with four daughters to raise alone. The oldest Rebecca, 18, and Rachel, 16, are reliable, but he worries about the two younger ones and how the impact of losing their mother affects them. 

Adamant to assist Joy, Uriah states it is the Amish way. Seeing the strain she is under, he believes it’s his duty to his late brother to look after her and the family. Before long, Uriah and his helpers are busy adding a “dawdihaus” addition for Johnny B—not just a bedroom, but his own separate apartment with a bedroom/living room, tiny kitchen, and bath, so this way he can be self-sufficient.

Joy and Uriah argue about this:

“‘Uriah, I barely agreed to a room. A dawdihaus?’ She shook her head. ‘That is way more than I planned for.’ . . . 

. . . “‘What if Johnny B doesn’t walk again?’

“‘But he will.’

“‘You can have all the hope in the world, but you should consider the fact that if he doesn’t, he may very well live in this house until he dies. He might not get married. He will certainly need some care from his family.

“‘Now a dawdihaus would add value to your own house, give him some independence as he gets older, and since we’re already building this, we can lower the cabinets and countertops so he can utilize the space.’

“Forever. Until he dies.

“It was a staggering thought, and one she hadn’t allowed herself to have. Until now. She was taking it one thing at a time. And first up was getting him to walk again. Once that happened, she could deal with the rest.” 

While Uriah works on the addition, he and Johnny B talk about everything and anything. Uriah understands it is hard for Johnny B to discuss guy things with his mother, so he fills in by becoming a mentor. Also worried about Chris’ recent behavior, he pulls him aside to find out what is going on with him. He thinks it is important to help Joy by alleviating some of her pressures any way he can.

Soon, Uriah suggests the two families spend Friday nights together for take-out dinners and board games. Joy is relieved her youngsters are happy, but observes something is up with Rebecca and Rachel, Uriah’s oldest daughters. The two young women consider Joy is trying to trap their father into marrying her, and they don’t like it one bit. Secretly they share a plot to put a wrench in the whole possible wedding scenario.

The girls discuss:

 “‘Pay attention tonight,’ Rebecca told Rachel.

“‘To what?’ her sister asked.

“‘Everything. Anything. We have to find something about her that will show him her true colors. Once we have that, we can make sure it doesn’t go any further than him building this addition to her house.’”

As the holidays approach, Joy realizes she needs help in the bakery. She hires a young girl who is not good for much except for keeping company with Johnny B. Joy wonders how she’ll be able to handle all her orders when Rebecca and Rachel offer to work for her. The girls think if they become more friendly with her, they can find out her intentions with their dad. She is their aunt, yet they don’t trust her and don’t want their family to deal with another upheaval. They believe things are fine as they are and do not want another mother and more siblings. 

Uriah spends more time working on the addition, and he and Joy are thrown together often. Surprisingly, a stirring of desire erupts between them. But Joy tries not to think about her sudden feelings for Uriah. She refuses to give up her business and independence. As time passes, she recognizes what a loyal man he is with her children, and he notices how well she gets along with his daughters. Most important is their attraction. Can they deny it? 

Book #3 in the Paradise Valley series is a sweet tale focused on love and loss for a woman trying to raise a large family as a single parent. It asks the question, Can there be a second chance for her? Many Amish stories not only give insight into their quiet and peaceful lives but demonstrate they share many of the same trials and tribulations as the non-Amish experience. Giving a great view into another way of life with confidence and faith as strong motivators in this quick-paced novel, the reader is also provided with a few mouth-watering recipes.