Saturday, July 30, 2005

Book Review: Levi's Will

Will Mullet grew up in a pacifist, Amish home in Ohio. His father, Levi Mullet, was a hard man to love. He demanded a great deal from his children, especially his sons. The one thing that his sons could not afford to do was make their father angry. Will Mullet made that mistake at 19 years old when he gets a girl pregnant and then rather facing the consequences of his mistake runs away from home, assumes a new identity, joins the Army and attempts to build a family of his own.

In Levi's Will, former electrician turned author Dale Cramer sketches a story about love, forgiveness, family and redemption. His characters are sketched with amazing detail and a terrific understanding of the culture of both the Amish community as well as the deep south where Will eventually settles down with Helen, the daugher of a Georgia farmer.

Ironically, the characters Cramer has created are very similar to his own parents. He even acknowledges at the end of the book that many of the events in the story are drawn from his parents' own experiences. This first-hand knowledge of these details makes the story even more vivid.

This is not a typical Christian novel that has a protagontist who faces some crisis in their life, hears the Gospel and becomes a believer. It's focused much more on the development of characters than focused on action. Both of these factors are great advantages.

As the story unfolds and Will begins to raise sons of his own he begins to realize how much he needs to be reconciled to his own father. Much of the book serves as a word of caution to fathers to be positive influences on their children and to understand how much of their own parenting is shaped by how they were raised. In fact, the title of the book is a reference to the fact that in the Amish community it was common to introduce yourself with your father's name hence Levi's Will.

This is a wonderful book that is well worth reading. Mr. Cramer has devoted great attention to detail and provides a vivid picture of real people dealing with real problems. In the end, not everything is tied up in a neat bundle. But the reader is left with plenty of things to think about. Levi's Will is well worth reading.

This book was provided to me by Mind and Media through a gift from Bethany House Publishers. No other consideration has been received in exchange for this review.

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