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Levi's Will Kindle Edition

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In 1943, 19-year-old Will Mullet flees his pacifist Amish community of Apple Creek, Ohio, leaving behind a pregnant girl and a rigid, God-fearing home to find a new life. He enlists in the military, marries a southern belle and tries to erase every trace of his past. But he can't completely disengage from his roots, and nor, he belatedly discovers, does he want to. Levi, Will's father, is slow to accept the prodigal son. Decades pass, and as Will's life and relationship with his own children unfolds, "he begins to see that every man's failure dips its roots into the previous generation and drops its seeds into the next." Cramer shifts eras and narrative styles from chapter to chapter, sometimes following Will's life in the 1940s as a young single man, sometimes chronicling other decades leading up to and including the 1980s. Readers may be challenged by such time jumps, as well as the novel's multiple settings (Florida, Ohio, Europe) and numerous characters. Although it lacks some of the passion of his previous novel, Bad Ground, this quiet follow-up powerfully portrays the relationships between fathers and their children, the bitterness of rejection and the redeeming power of friendship, faith and forgiveness.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Christian novels often mask as realistic, but the Evangelical Christian Publishing Association's code of purity, and the necessity to take the party line on doctrinal matters, is more likely to inspire propaganda than realism. Cramer vaults past such restrictions, however, with his story of a brooding young Amish man, Will Mullet, who in 1943 flees his home in Ohio. There's his pitiless father, Levi, who cannot be reasoned with, and a girlfriend, Mattie, whose pregnancy has caused Will to be banned. After knocking about on the road for a while, Will enlists, and irony of ironies for a pacifist, finds a home in the army. He's a good man but seems remote and intractable to his sons, and he's a difficult husband as well throughout his prickly but unbreakable marriage. (The confrontation between Will's wife, Helen, and a circle of judgmental Amish women is priceless.) As he grows older, Will tries to go home again but cannot; nor does his stubborn father mellow even a little. Yet in time there's forgiveness to be had, and wisdom, in this beautiful and original story that neither damns nor praises the Amish but simply presents them. This is accomplished work. John Mort
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • File Size: 833 KB
  • Print Length: 401 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0764229958
  • Publisher: Bethany House Publishers (October 1, 2009)
  • Publication Date: October 1, 2009
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00B856AAA
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #120,799 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

DALE CRAMER was the second of four children born to a runaway Amishman turned soldier and a south Georgia sharecropper's daughter. His formative years were divided between far-flung military bases, yet he always maintained his mother's sense of place, remembering the knee-deep snows of Maryland, chasing horned toads in El Paso, or a sun-rippled macadam road at his grandparents' Georgia house. True to his Amish roots Dale skipped college and went to work with his hands, earning a living as an electrician, all the while reading widely and voraciously. The thought was never far from his mind that someday he would like to write books.

In 1975 he married his childhood friend Pam, and eventually they settled in the country south of Atlanta. They have two sons,Ty and Dusty. After keeping the boys in daycare for a year, Pam and Dale decided to make whatever sacrifices were necessary to provide a full time homelife. The decision came with unexpected results when Dale became a stay-at-home dad. He took on small construction projects in the evenings, both for the sake of his sanity and to help make ends meet. One of these jobs led to his first published writing, an article in Industry Week.

Having gained a taste for writing, he decided to pursue the avocation, studying technique, reading books, and writing during his sons' naps. Over the next two years he published short stories in several literary magazines, and in 1997 Dale began work on his first novel. Sutter's Cross was eventually published to great acclaim in 2003.

His second novel, Bad Ground (2004), owes a great deal to the author's own experiences as a construction electrician. The industrial setting is based on a real water treatment plant on the south side of Atlanta. One of the main characters, badly burned in an explosion, gains a unique measure of authenticity from the author's own experience. Publishers Weekly selected Bad Ground as one of the "Best Books of 2004", as did Library Journal and Booklist. The novel also won a Christy Award from the Christian Booksellers Association.

Dale's third novel, Levi's Will, follows the life of runaway Amishman Will Mullet, who must reconcile himself to his roots before he can find true redemption. Loosely based on the life of Dale's father, Levi's Will has also found critical acclaim and netted Dale a second Christy Award.

Summer of Light, Dale's fourth novel, released in 2007, is a much lighter read, a humorous and sometimes poignant romp through the daily grind of an ironworker who reluctantly becomes a stay at home dad to three free-spirited kids, a menagerie of animals and a diabolically intelligent dog.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Eric Wilson on June 28, 2005
Format: Paperback
Focusing on the stone-chiseled men of a previous generation, Cramer somehow pens novels of beauty and grace. He introduces us to sympathetic characters, then leads us through their dark valleys to reach the glow of redemption. With his last novel, "Bad Ground," he gained respect and high praise from such notable publications as Publishers Weekly--and rightly so. I counted it as one of my favorite novels of the year.

"Levi's Will" is equally engaging. I was caught up in the story of young Will Mullet, an Amish kid, who runs away from home to avoid the wrath of his father. This decision leads him on a path of deception which will cause a decades-long divide between Will and his Amish kin. Along the way, he sees the evil of WWII and discovers love. His lies catch up with him, though, resulting in a masterful--and humorous--scene between Will and his wife, a southern woman with a backbone to match his own.

The last half of the book feels somewhat inevitable, yet Cramer draws us deeper into the nuances of his characters and the Amish lifestyle, and to his credit he still manages to generate emotional response. Lessons of love and forgiveness are learned, bridging the hurt of three generations; the hearts of fathers and sons are moved toward eachother; and the hypocrisy of religion is revealed, while the possibility of knowing a personal God is presented as an honor.

Once again, Cramer shows us how the lessons of the past still apply today. His ability to do so through works of fiction is nothing short of miraculous.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By L.M.W. on January 25, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
While much of Christian fiction tends to be overly optimistic, unrealistically wholesome, and often just plain sappy, Cramer injects much more realism and intellect into his prose, a writing style that is much more comparable to good mainstream fiction authors.

I thoroughly enjoyed "Levi's Will." Spanning over 40 years, this book tells the story of Will, a teenage boy who runs away from his Amish home and leaves behind a pregnant Amish girl. He subsequently enters WWII as a soldier, marries a strong-willed young woman from Georgia, and has a family of his own, but over the years his soul longs for his father's forgiveness and acceptance. He also wonders about the fate of the Amish girl and unborn child that he left behind--details that he kept hidden from his wife. However, Will's father, Levi, is a hard man dedicated to the strict Old Order Amish who refuses to forgive his "wayward" son. It's a beautiful story of bitterness and forgiveness, and one I highly recommend.

While this story has its melancholy moments, Cramer includes enough hope to encourage the reader. One thing especially profound about this novel is its treatment of time. For over 30 years, Will seeks his father's forgiveness. That requires substantial patience and wisdom, something we all need more of. Will is a flawed character, which I like because he's very human, but Cramer shows that God doesn't always tie a neat bow on our lives and answer our prayers like we think He should. Sometimes things go wrong. Sometimes bad things happen to good people. Sometimes we just don't understand life. Cramer's writing is extremely honest--something I'm very glad to see in the Christian fiction market. I'm eager to see what Cramer writes next.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Lori A. Patrick on June 21, 2005
Format: Paperback
Follow Dale Cramer's literary progress and you'll witness the evolution of a writer. Those with literary aspirations are well advised to begin anywhere-you can't go wrong with his novels, no matter how hard you try-and savor the tangible journey of a born storyteller. Rivetingly good when he started-even his first novel received remarkable critical praise-he just gets better with time. Learn from him if you can, but be warned: You'll be hard-pressed to analyze technique that all but vanishes in the presence of pure, can't-put-it-down-even-at-3-a.m. tale-telling.

Cramer is a rare find among contemporary authors-a writer of depth and excellence who has something worthwhile to say. His books have dimension because he approaches them from a myriad of angles, burrowing under the skin of an impressive roster of original characters, polishing off with exquisite craft stories that burbled to the surface from deep inside. Steinbeck's honest appreciation of the common man, Wendell Berry's poetic vision of the binding relationship between man and the earth, Hugo's understanding of the heart-rending war between justice and mercy, and Tolstoy's timeless rendition of the human condition all find their way into his work. Superb craftsmanship, simple but eloquent language, and an extraordinary sense of timing make his fairly complex novels easy to fall into and impossible to leave behind. You will always take some of a Dale Cramer novel away with you.

Levi's Will is no exception. It's a quiet but irresistibly compelling story rich with the complex layers and well-developed characters Cramer is known for. He combines the intimate history of a family with the sweep of social and political history in the 20th century and never seems to break a sweat.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Robert Lamb on October 13, 2005
Format: Paperback
Levi's Will sets out to show that you can go home again, but that it might take a lot longer than you ever dreamed it would and there's no guarantee that the welcome mat will be out, ever again, when you do get there.

A father-son saga, this novel spans 42 years and three generations, and movingly relates countless incidents that readers young and old will recognize as identical to the conflicts and heartaches of their own mortal struggles, especially with their loved ones.

Born in an Amish community in Ohio, teenager Will Mullet runs away from home in 1943, changes his surname to McGruder, and over the years fashions a new life for himself, including military service in World War II, and settling in Atlanta with a wife and children of his own.

Throughout, however, he feels like a displaced person, and well he should. Spending one's formative years in an old order Amish community is poor preparation for life in the outside world, and covering one's trail with lies is poor preparation for life in any world. Not even Will's wife Helen knows that her husband is not who he said he was, meaning that she and their children are not quite who she thinks they were, and that the man she has been sleeping with for years will turn out to be worse than a stranger; to her he's a cipher.

Will begins to come clean with Helen and his own children when the urge to go home again brings him hope that he can heal the breach with a father who long ago disowned him-and who will prove slow, very slow, to forgive. There's also the little matter of still another secret in Will's past: He is the father of an illegitimate child he left behind who is now being raised by his sister as her own daughter.
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