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Peace Like a Riverby Leif Enger
Synopses & Reviews
Leif Enger's rhapsodic novel about a father raising his three children in 1960s Minnesota is a breathtaking celebration of family, faith, and America's pioneering spirit. Through the voice of eleven-year-old Reuben, an asthmatic boy obsessed with cowboy stories, Peace Like a River tells of the Land family's cross-country search for Reuben's outlaw older brother, who has been controversially charged with murder. Sprinkled with playful and warmhearted nods to biblical tales, classic American novels such as Huckleberry Finn, the adventure stories of Robert Louis Stevenson, and the Westerns of Zane Grey, Peace Like a River brilliantly incorporates the best elements of all these genres and ultimately earns its own prominent and enduring place on the shelf among them.
Reuben Land was born with no air in his lungs, and it was only when his father, Jeremiah, picked him up and commanded him to breathe that his lungs filled. Reuben struggles with debilitating asthma thenceforth, but he is a boy who knows firsthand that life is a gift, and also one who suspects that his father can overturn the laws of nature. When Reuben's older brother, Davy, kills two marauders who have come to harm the family, the town is divided between those who see him as a hero and those who see him as a cold-blooded murderer. On the morning of the trial, Davy escapes from his cell, and when his family finds out they decide to go forth into the unknown in search of him. With Jeremiah whose faith is the stuff of legend at the helm, the family covers territory far more glorious than even the Badlands, where they search for Davy from their Airstream trailer. By the time the journey is over, they will have traversed boundaries of a different nature entirely. Marked by a soul-expanding sense of place and a love of storytelling, Peace Like a River is at once a heroic quest, a tragedy, a romance, and a heartfelt meditation on the possibility of magic in the everyday world.
"What readers will appreciate first in Enger's marvelous novel is the language. His limpid sentences are composed with the clarity and richness for which poets strive....Enger's profound understanding of human nature stands behind his compelling prose." Booklist (starred review)
"Enger has written one of the year's best novels....Once in a great while, a book comes along that has such wonderful characters and marvelous prose that you read it as much for the pure joy it offers on virtually every page as to find out how it ends....You'll be sorry if you miss it....Go out and get a copy; savor it. This one is special." Tom Walker, The Denver Post
"You don't see novels like this one very often. Peace Like a River reminds a reader of Kent Haruf's Plainsong or even Norman MacLean's A River Runs Through It. It's got that pure American loss of innocence theme, that belief in and fascination with miracles, that insistence on the goodness of men outside of the law." Susan Salter Reynolds, Los Angeles Times Book Review
"It's the impassioned honesty of his quiet, measured narrative voice that gives weight and truth to the fantastic elements of this engrossing tale....This is a stunning debut novel, one that sneaks up on you like a whisper and warms you like a quilt in a North Dakota winter, a novel about faith, miracles and family that is, ultimately, miraculous." Publishers Weekly
When Davey escapes from jail, he steals a horse, and disappears. His family feels his absence so sorely, three of them pile into their old Plymouth, towing a brand new 1963 Airstream trailer, and set out on a quest to find him. And they follow the outlaw west, right into the wild Dakota Badlands.
Contemporary American fiction that should appeal to fans of John Irving. Set in the 1960s on the edge of the Great Plains and told through the voice of an asthmatic eleven-year-old boy, Peace Like A River is a beautiful and emotional debut. "Seductive and chatty and deliciously American and there are passages so wondrous you'll want to claw yourself with pleasure" Frank McCourt.
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