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.
"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
"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)
"Once you begin Leif Enger's Peace Like A River, you are carried away by the elemental surge of its story, the sheer eagerness to see what happens to the engrossing characters who exist far from the intrusions of the media in the timeless arena of family love and anguish over a lost member. It is Enger's gift that he has made their extraordinary world credible." Jim Harrison, author of Legends of the Fall and Dalva
"I'm urging this book on you because it is written in prose tart and crisp as a Minnesota Autumn. Peace Like a River is seductive and chatty and deliciously American and there are passages so wondrous and wise you'll want to claw yourself with pleasure." Frank McCourt, author of Angela's Ashes and 'Tis
"[W]hat allows Peace Like a River to transcend any limitations of belief and genre is its broad, sagacious humanity. Within the context of an adventure-filled tall tale, oddly enough, the book stretches out to gently explore the ancient mysteries of family. Independence and possession, loyalty and treachery, love and loathing they're all here, even if it's not always clear which is which....There is magic here, none more potent than Leif Enger's prose." Dan Cryer, Newsday
Hailed as one of the year's top five novels by Time, and selected as one of the best books of the year by nearly all major newspapers, national bestseller Peace Like a River captured the hearts of a nation in need of comfort. "A rich mixture of adventure, tragedy, and healing," Peace Like a River is "a collage of legends from sources sacred and profane -- from the Old Testament to the Old West, from the Gospels to police dramas" (Ron Charles, The Christian Science Monitor). In "lyrical, openhearted prose" (Michael Glitz, The New York Post), Enger tells the story of eleven-year-old Reuben Land, an asthmatic boy who has reason to believe in miracles. Along with his sister and father, Reuben finds himself on a cross-country search for his outlaw older brother who has been controversially charged with murder. Their journey is touched by serendipity and the kindness of strangers, and its remarkable conclusion shows how family, love, and faith can stand up to the most terrifying of enemies, the most tragic of fates. Leif Enger's "miraculous" (Valerie Ryan, The Seattle Times) novel is a "perfect book for an anxious time ... of great literary merit that nonetheless restores readers' faith in the kindness of stories" (Marta Salij, Detroit Free Press).
About the Author
Leif Enger was raised in Osakis, Minnesota, and has worked as a reporter and producer for Minnesota Public Radio since 1984. He lives on a farm in Minnesota with his wife and two sons.