The Dakota Paradigm

The Dakota Paradigm

When you have only yourself to rescue you, do it!

Cover Art © Glenda Clemens 2022

Dakota had to grow up fast!

Her mother and grandmother both died within a few weeks of each other, in Commerce, Texas. She was left, at age of 19, to settle all the legal, personal, and financial matters for the two women who had shaped her life. When she completed getting the estate settled, she had two hundred dollars, no home, no car, and no one to call family.

While going through her mother’s papers, she found her biological father’s name and address in McAlester, Oklahoma. She read the letter he had sent her over 19 years ago telling her mother to ‘get rid of it’. Dakota was the ‘it’ he wanted her mother to get rid of. But, where else could she go?

She knew she had a sister named Leslie. Maybe she would welcome Dakota even if her father would not. By the time she decided to leave Commerce, Texas, and head for McAlester, Oklahoma, to the only family she had, she had forty dollars in her pocket. Hitchhiking seemed the only choice.

Horror and brutality slammed her down to reality when she was kidnapped and brutalized. She was going to die. All her longing for family and belonging was going to end with no one knowing who she was or caring what happened to her. She craved love and belonging. She hoped to find those in the family — if she lived through her ordeal.

A man who was evil to the core had other ideas. He brutalized not only Dakota but his family too. Sometimes family is the most dangerous and least loving place to be, but surely Leslie would not be like this man.

She didn’t have a white knight coming to rescue her. She was not in the middle of a fairy tale. This was brutal reality. Whether she lived or died was up to her.

Judge’s Review from Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Contest:

“The Dakota Paradigm is a gripping tale, not for the faint of heart. Clemens depicts the violence and brutality at the core of patriarchal thinking and holds a true mirror up to religious hypocrisy. Clemens presents her main characters believably. Dakota is a young woman in search of her heretofore unknown biological sister but finds so much more in this sister, the mentor and mother figure she needs in order to endure late adolescence. Dakota’s trek from Texas to Oklahoma is rife with tension — culminating in her brutal kidnapping. The tension is conveyed artfully by each minor character that assists this young woman on her journey. The old couple, the woman in the bus station, and the young couple all fear for Dakota’s safety, and as a result, so do we. The fact that we understand exactly the impending danger these people feel is a tribute to Clemens’s skill and an indictment of America’s love affair with toxic masculinity and misogyny. This book exposes our systemic brutality with harrowing verisimilitude. When Cyrus Cox is described in a lament for his lost future, I cringed as I recalled too many similar real-life incidents. (“It seems a shame that a man who had such a great future ahead of him fell so low.”) Clemens possesses a genius for writing about human interaction, whether it’s heartfelt or brutal. The love scene between Dakota and Roland is deeply moving. (“They watched the stars until the moon went down and the Milky Way appeared.”) And chapters 33 and 34, where LaDean metes out justice to the Cox family, is riveting.”

Another judge’s review:

“The Dakota Paradigm is an excellent and powerful novel where horrific events are counterbalanced by the power of healing, friendship, and love. The characters are diverse, well-formed, and endearing. The suspense is well executed, and we readers are on tenterhooks the whole time she’s on the road, which really draws us into the book, ensuring we don’t get up to make coffee any time soon. The author has a talent for character development, and the writing is quite expressive. La Dean’s story, for example, was harrowing and left me in tears after reading it.”



I spent most of my life taking care of my family. Now that I’m retired, I have time to seek adventure. I’m writing fiction. I’m having the time of my life.

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Glenda Clemens

I spent most of my life taking care of my family. Now that I’m retired, I have time to seek adventure. I’m writing fiction. I’m having the time of my life.