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

4.8 out of 5 stars 84 customer reviews

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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: 395 pages
  • Publisher: Bethany House; No Edition Stated edition (February 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0764229966
  • ISBN-13: 978-0764229961
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (84 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #642,395 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have enjoyed all four W Dale Cramer books I have read. This one was not my favorite, but it was still good. Although realistically, I might measure my enjoyment of it more 3.5, I gave it four, just because he's a very good writer.

The story focuses on Mick Brannigan and his family. He is an ironworker, a real man, macho. He loses his job and becomes a stay-at-home dad, temporarily, or so he thinks.... he has some amazing adventures and life and God lessons along the way with his kids and family and neighbors. It's a story of what to do with your real gifts, God's leading (and pushing) and love and family. It's pretty cool, real and life-affirming. The characters are all very memorable. It ends as life ends, with openness and even uncertainty about what the world holds out to you but real hope for what is true and good.

I think it should be called "a year of light", since its not just about the summer break. It's a lot about photography too and the true gifts and calling we each have and, potentially, the artist inside each of us (Mick finds out he is gifted with photography).

The novel's high points, IMHO, are Mick' s relationships with four "men": Hap, Aubrey, the "Man-with-no-hands" and his young Son Dylan (who has some autistic behaviors and challenges). Each relationship makes Mick and the others grow as individuals and see life in a unique way.

This is a clean, Christian novel but is totally non -preachy.

I want to give a shout-out too for two other Cramer books I like even more: Levi' s Will and Sutter' s Cross. Please see my reviews of both of these. I would say "Summer of Light" is the sweetest and easiest of these three to read but it's not the best. If you want lighter, try this one first.
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