Peace Like a River

by Leif Enger

Peace Like a River is the kind of book I have been looking for. Enger creates the fascinating character Jeremiah Land, a father, and modern worker of miracles. We begin the story by remembering the story of Reuben Land’s miraculous birth. This is our first introduction to Jeremiah’s mysterious power when he commands his middle son to “breathe” and he does. Reuben has the ability to see his father’s miracles where his older brother Davy does not.

The novel begins with tension immediately with a run in with some town hooligans that escalates into murder. Jeremiah Land becomes ill, and Reuben and his younger sister Swede are forced to run the farm while dealing with different emotions concerning Davy’s imprisonment. The town seems to take sides and the Land family is on the loosing end. When Davy escapes from jail the family is again thrown into turmoil as they try to find Davy before the FBI agents.

Generally, just reading the synopsis one would think that the whole scenario is a far fetched one and that it would be difficult to suspend disbelief. Not so. This novel is so well written and its characters so genuine and authentic, that one believes in the miracles and mysterious powers. The novel also paints every character in a very humane light. Reuben freely admits his failings, especially at his own brother’s trial where the prosecuting attorney is able to flatter him into providing just the type of testimony that proves damaging to Davy. He also appears human as he suffers the general shames of childhood when he sees his father fired from his job as the school janitor.

I truly enjoyed this book, though I am glad that I studied the Old Testament in college as some of the symbolism and Biblical references wouldn’t be terribly profound if the reader didn’t have a decent grounding in the Bible. I look forward to reading more of Enger’s work. I particularly enjoyed that Enger did not try to wrap things up in a pretty package and explain the moral as so many modern authors tend to want to do. He simply tells the story of a family and lets the reader take away their own moral. I look forward to reading more of Enger’s work.

1 Comment »

  1. Karen E. says:

    I read this book last year after three of my colleagues recommended it. Their praise was so glowing that I think I went into the book expecting a little too much, so I was automatically disappointed. It was still good, just not as fantastic as I had been led to believe.

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