In 1943, Levi Mullet escapes his farm, his father, and his Amish heritage. He leaves behind family, scandal and beliefs in order to set out on his own. Defying his pacifist upbringing he enlists and fights in the Second World War. After the war he marries and settles down with his family. But even when living in the Deep South, far from Ohio, he cannot shake the memories of his family. He cannot fully and finally uproot himself. His prodigal heart beats for home.
In Levi’s Will Dale Cramer, whose previous books, also published by Bethany House are Sutter’s Cross and Bad Ground, brings us a story of betrayal, judgmentalism and forgiveness. He brings us a story of “the sins of the fathers.” Ultimately he brings us a story about grace. With settings as diverse the Amish countryside of Northern Ohio, the battlefields of Europe and the burning heat of Georgia, Cramer’s attention to detail and realism paints a story that is both moving and profound.
Cramer’s novels remind me of those written by Jeffrey Archer – he can draw the reader into his world without relying on cheap tricks. He can carry a book for 400 pages without filling it with action that would take more from the plot than it would add to it. For example, when he sends Will to war, he sends him as a mechanic and not as a soldier. He does not add electrifying plot twists in an attempt to keep the reader intrigued. And indeed, he does not need to. This is a book relying more on the strength of the characters than on their actions. And in my view it is the mark of a superior novelist that he can create characters strong enough that they carry the book of their own accord.
I enjoyed this book from cover-to-cover. It moves slowly compared to the thrillers I most-often seem to review, but I definitely enjoyed it more. It seems to me that Christian fiction has come a long way since I last invested time in it. Levi’s Will is a long way from This Present Darkness. And it’s a good thing.
I’d like to refer you to a review that is far superior to mine. If you’re interested in this book, try reading Sherry Early’s post entitled “Levi’s Will by W. Dale Cramer.”