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Levi's Will Paperback – Bargain Price, October 1, 2009

4.6 out of 5 stars 235 customer reviews

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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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Bethany House Publishers (October 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0764207121
  • ASIN: B003IWYLUC
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (235 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,894,264 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
"Levi's Will"
By W. Dale Cramer
Levi Mullet's Tobe accompanies his brother Will as the boys hop a moving freight to ride the rails into adulthood. A couple years fly by and Will finds WWII exploding unexpected, conscience-searing ordinance, like a howitzer cannon pummeling enemy troops, into his life. Fast forward, a married Will finds his friend, finds a job and finds a life filled with something he understands...work. Beneath mundane everyday existence, the capsized relationship between Will and his father festers poisoning other family relationships. Behind the ordinary, this rift seethes fragmenting two generations, and then boils rage over love's every effort at reconciliation. Will's longing and effort to right his relationship with his father cannot penetrate Levi's self-righteous heart, nor can his staid Amish father forgive Will. Their stalled relationship seems irreconcilable, but is it? The reader will have to buy the book to find out for I won't give away the conclusion to this amazing book.
"Levi's Will" shines like the sun far above most of the books in the publishing world's databanks. Dale Cramer writes high prose verging on pure poetry. From word choice to novel structure, Dale Cramer has crafted this book so well that it lives on in the reader's mind long after the last word has been read. Well worth the purchase price, "Levi's Will" deserves more than `a thumbs' up and five stars. It deserves every award won.
One final word, "Levi's Will" reminds me of a Mark Twain story, but with decidedly Christian underpinnings. This Amish book is almost a family saga. "Levi's Will" is not a romance, not specifically a coming of age book, not a suspense novel, not a war book, and not a `chick lit' read. This is a crossover book.
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