Friday, October 30, 2009

How to Forgive Your Father

Reviewed by Phee Paradise
Levi's Will by W. Dale Cramer

This is a wonderful story about a man whose long journey away from his roots takes him back to them in the end. We first see Will near the end of his life when he has gone back to his childhood home to bury his father. His troubled son comes with him. As they meet the people from Will’s youth and participate in the funeral rituals, Will remembers. Most of the book is the story of his life, told in the context of his Amish childhood.

The title of Levi’s Will reflects the story perfectly, with its multiple meanings. It is Will’s story, but the way he lives his life is influenced his father, Levi. Levi’s control and rigidity drive Will away from home, but not before teaching him a persistence that makes him constantly seek his father’s approval and forgiveness, even though they are estranged. Throughout his life, Will defines himself as his father’s son, but usually in a negative way. Levi was Old Order Amish, so Will abandons God. Levi was a pacifist, so Will joins the army. Levi was a harsh father, so Will abdicates his fathering of his own sons to their mother. On the other hand, Will works hard and loves his farm, because that is what Levi taught him.

After running away from home, Will has to find his way in the World. He makes some bad decisions, but also meets some people who love him. Because of them, he eventually faces the repercussions of his upbringing and his response to it. He not only has to forgive his father, but he has to learn to ask forgiveness from his wife and sons. It’s a hard lesson and he doesn’t fully learn it until the end.

I highly recommend this book, not only for the deep themes, but for the easy style and the wonderful characters. Will’s struggles happen within a great story and the resolution is very satisfying.

Pros: I want to say everything about the book, but I’ll be more specific. It’s a good story with flawed but likeable characters, a good setting and real themes.

Cons: None that I can think of.

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