W. Dale Cramer
Set in the beautiful Amish countryside of Ohio, I had just started reading Levi’s Will when five the Amish school girls were murdered in Nickel Mines, PA. The themes of this book resonated deeply on the heels of this tragedy.
Will Mullet was brought up in an Old Order Amish family with five brothers, three sisters, a stepmother and his father, Levi. In the Amish way of naming children, Levi’s Will would have been his name until he became a man.
Levi Mullet expects a lot of his children, especially his hard-working sons. When his second son, Will, gets his betrothed pregnant and then leaves home with his younger brother Tobe, Will is banned from his church, his family, and his home. Eight years later, when Will returns home hoping for forgiveness, Levi doesn’t recognize him at first, then says, “I thought you were dead,” and walks away. Levi’s will is resolute and absolute. He will not bend or forgive.
After leaving his Amish home, Will learns that he can make it through almost anything by working hard, a lesson learned from his father. After making it through World War II, he marries and starts his own family. But Will’s live is built upon lies. No one knows about his Amish roots, the ban, his true age or even his real name… including his wife, Helen. As Will continues to hide his past, he abdicates much of his role in his family and becomes alienated from his own sons. As one of his sons spins out of control and his own marriage begins to grumble, Will realizes he must somehow reconcile his past to have any hope for the future. Levi’s obdurance still overshadows Will’s life, as Will’s own legacy colors his son’s life. Levi’s death brings father and son together in more ways than one. Levi’s will also refers to the legacy Levi leaves his son with his passing.
The lessons Will learns about forgiveness are all the more poignant in light of the forgiveness shown again and again by the Nickel Mines Amish. Beautifully written and lovingly researched, Levi’s Will speaks volumes about the healing power of love and the powerful absolution of forgiveness. Levi’s Will is a winner of the Christy Award for Christian Fiction.
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