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Summer of Light: A Novel Paperback – Bargain Price, February 1, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

As its title would suggest, Cramer's fourth novel is lighter and less gritty than its critically acclaimed predecessors (Levi's Will; Bad Ground), but it is a thoughtful and engaging read. When ironworker Mick Brannigan loses his construction job, he becomes a stay-at-home dad to his three children. Especially troublesome is four-year-old Dylan, who may have sensory integration dysfunction (and is in trouble for such things as licking the day-care teacher's ankle because he likes the texture of pantyhose on his tongue). The Brannigans' Georgia neighbors include a snobbish, wealthy couple and the contrasting Hap Harrelson, a grizzled fix-it man in unbuttoned overalls who is accompanied by a pack of beagles. A handless, homeless man (who faintly echoes a messianic character in Cramer's debut novel, Sutter's Cross) serves as sort of a supernatural figure. Layne Brannigan, a paralegal, is a strong woman figure for faith fiction, both nurturing of her family and talented in her profession. Cramer allows Mick to be reasonably competent but thoroughly male in his parenting style, and Mick's discovery of his creative talent for photography is an uplifting addition. Although the plot feels pieced together and Cramer occasionally narrates instead of letting the story unfold, the enjoyable cast of characters will keep the reader interested. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Mick Brannigan is a working-class stiff, but he has always been a good family man. Then he loses his job, while simultaneously his wife's long-postponed career takes off, and his small son, Dylan, exhibits developmental problems. Dylan needs the close supervision of a stay-at-home parent. Mick resists at first, then submits to his wife's logic and finds a new side of himself--if not through housework, then through guiding his children in ways their mother would never have thought of. This is a surprising turn from the author of the brilliant, rather somber Levi's Will (2005), but it's warm, believable, and often--particularly in scenes set at Disney World--hilarious. John Mort
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Bethany House (February 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0764229966
  • ASIN: B001PO64PA
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,747,951 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Armchair Interviews on February 1, 2007
Format: Paperback
You don't have to believe in divine intervention to enjoy this book. In fact, the viewpoint of a skeptic may lead you to some surprising conclusions about God. That skeptic is Mick Brannigan, a seasoned ironworker and self-proclaimed loudmouth, who has trouble holding his tongue with his wife's church group. But Mick is also a man of quiet character and strength.

His story begins with a difficult decision. His young son Dylan has been diagnosed with sensory integration dysfunction. Someone must take control of his therapy and care by staying at home with him in an uncomplicated social setting. Layne, Mick's wife, loves her job and is unwilling to quit. But, Mick can always get hired on as an ironworker at another job down the road. Somehow the decision is made and Mick is reluctantly faced with the challenges of full-time fatherhood.

In spite of himself Mick begins a journey of self-discovery. It seems as if some higher power is orchestrating events that will prove Mick to be a talented photographer who has a gift that reveals the very essence of faith, hope and charity. Portraits of his children, his countryside, his work at a homeless shelter, and the men of steel he worked with, all reveal the essential beliefs of Mick Brannigan. He has a gift for fatherhood as well.

Amongst the sticky floors and dirty laundry his children thrive. And much to his humble amazement--so does he.

While reading this book I felt as though I came to know a generous and gifted man. His humbleness and quiet strength were qualities that set him apart. And be assured that he proves that fatherhood can be a man's most important role in life.

Armchair Interviews says: Fatherhood in a new light.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Eric Wilson on February 13, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
With his books "Bad Ground" and "Levi's Will," Dale Cramer established himself in my mind as one of our premier writers. His characters, settings, and metaphors are beautifully rendered. His prose is poetic in places, yet with a working class ethic to it that makes it believable and accessible.

"Summer of Light" is Cramer's most accessible book to date. The main character, Mick Brannigan, is a typical man's man. He works on construction crews. He uses his fists to protect his loved ones. He wants to be the breadwinner. When that responsibility is taken from him, by a number of conspiratorial circumstances, Mick begins to adjust to the life of a stay-at-home dad. He has three children, pets, and pesky neighbors. What seems simple turns into a year-long season of change that's full of laugh-out-loud moments as well as heart-nudging scenes. Mick discovers who he truly is along the way, while also discovering his kids and appreciating his wife in a new light.

On the surface, this book is more readable, less literary, maybe even not as deep, as "Bad Ground." On closer examination, this book refuses to play into literary trends which call for gut-wrenching pathos. Instead, it brackets the picture of a modern family going through common struggles, finding hope and joy and "street faith" along the way. Without resorting to sappiness, "Summer of Light" is a feel-good story. Cramer continues to impress.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Wolfe Moffat on February 14, 2007
Format: Paperback
When I pick up a book by Cramer, I am convinced that I am not picking up a book. I am walking into my own personal movie theatre. I stroll over to my concession stand for a soda, (my fridge, of course) grab a snack, and as I tap open the first page, the feature presentation begins. I've felt that way ever since "Bad Ground" leaped off the page. The man is simply amazing! "Summer of Light" is beyond amazing, because everything JUMPS right off the page, and into the heart.

So, what would you do if YOU were a hard worker, had some crazy mishap at work, and the boss simply declares, "You're fired!"? What could you do? Look for a new job, or maybe stay at home with the kids because your lovely wife has a career of her own and now SHE can pay the bills! That's kind of the situation Mick Brannigan, is tossed into, and he isn't too certain that he's going to like the results. When school is in session he'll deal with Dylan, his youngest, who doesn't go to pre-school, but can imitate anything, and can't pronounce his Gs. The other 2 kids are Ben and Toad. They are just as memorable, and they have some great moments as well. Mick is taking on the life of a housewife! The crazy thing is, Mick has a gift, and it catches the eye of a neighbor, with a rather aristocratic wife. Mick is great with a camera, and he doesn't even know it.

This shows a lot of things. It takes a big tough guy, putting him into the not-so-tough, but it does so much more. It slams home what the measure of a man really is. It illustrates that any fool can preach a sermon, but you don't always have to run your mouth to get a real message across! It takes the man who can knock out your teeth with a single punch, and beautifully shows how that same man can capture an image in ways that some artists only dream about.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Elise Skidmore on May 3, 2007
Format: Paperback
In SUMMER OF LIGHT, Dale Cramer shows us yet another side of writing talent. In his previous novel, LEVI'S WILL, we met with a stern Amish family, but SUMMER OF LIGHT is filled with the humor and pathos that is the average contemporary family, struggling to get through life. Our hero, Mick Brannigan, is a blue collar working stiff who through a series of events becomes a stay-at-home dad. He faces the challenges and learns a lot about himself and daring to dream. There is much in this book that will make you smile, and it may even inspire you to meet some new challenges of your own. SUMMER OF LIGHT lives up to its name, and will leave you with a happy heart and feeling good by the time it's done.
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