Book Review: Levi’s Will by W. Dale Cramer

When I first joined Mind and Media as a reviewer, I requested the only two books available at that time, Levi’s Will by W. Dale Cramer and Jesus by Leith Anderson. When my brain belatedly realized, “I’ve agreed to review a work of CHRISTIAN FICTION. . . I’m doomed!” I nearly wrote Stacey Harp and asked her to remove me from the list of reviewers. My past experiences with Xian-fic have been, well, discouraging.

So I googled W. Dale Cramer and came up with his website. I read about him and about his past two novels. Both had received praised for being well-written and interesting. So, I calmed down and decided to give Christian fiction another change.

After snatching the book from my mailbox, I began reading it and couldn't put it down until I had finished it 24 hours later. His style is engaging and the characters are believable and well-developed. In constrast to almost all Christian fiction I've seen, the main characters are all male and the main conflict centers around father-son reconciliation.

The protagonist is a man named Will who ran away from his Amish home at age 17 after getting a girl pregnant. He struggles with deep bitterness towards his unbendingly strict father, Levi. In turn, he struggles with his own son, Riley. The book flashes back and forth between the youthful Will dealing with reconcilation with Levi and the older Will who is dealing with his own son Riley's anger towards him.

The title, Levi's Will, does not refer to a legal document of a man named Levi but to the Amish tradition of referring to children by affixing their father's first name. The title seems to allude to Will's identity as Levi's son. Although Will legally changes his name, he cannot escape from the identity bestowed upon him by his father. Walking along with Will as he learns to forgive his father is worth the price of this book. (Well, I got it free--but it would be worth the price!)

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