Peace like a river

Leif Enger

Book - 2001

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FICTION/Enger, Leif
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New York : Atlantic Monthly Press 2001.
Main Author
Leif Enger (-)
1st ed
Online Access
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Physical Description
313 p.
Contents unavailable.
Review by Booklist Review

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. It takes longer to get caught up in the story, but gradually, as the complex narrative unwinds, readers will find themselves immersed in an exceptionally heartfelt and moving tale about the resilience of family relationships, told in retrospect through the prism of memory. "We all hold history differently inside us," says narrator Reuben, who was an adolescent in Minnesota in the 1960s, when his brother, Davy, shot and killed two young men who were harassing the family. Rueben's father--in Rueben's estimation fully capable of performing miracles even though the outside world believed him to be lost in the clouds--packs Reuben and his sister up and follows the trail Davy has left in his flight from the law. Their journey comprises the action in the novel, but this is not really a book about adventures on the road. Rather, it is a story of relationships in which the exploration of character takes precedence over incident. Enger's profound understanding of human nature stands behind his compelling prose. --Brad Hooper

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

The cover, though beautiful, seems better suited for a reissue of Robin Hood or Camelot. And the reader's claim to fame is his role as an HIV-positive artist on the TV series Life Goes On. So what makes this an great audiobook? Two things: careful, thoughtful writing by Enger and passionate, spirited reading by Lowe. This is a graceful, stirring first novel, with echoes of To Kill a Mockingbird and classic Americana at its heart. Eleven-year-old Reuben Land lives a typically calm existence in a small Midwestern town; beyond having an extraordinary father (who performs quiet miracles), he's a pretty average boy. When two neighborhood bullies threaten his older brother, Davy, and his younger sister, Swede, life takes on a dark edge. The conflict escalates after Davy shoots the two boys dead, is in jail awaiting trial and escapes. Reuben, Swede and their widowed father take off in search of Davy, moving across the striking landscape of Minnesota and South Dakota. Their search ultimately leads them to make a very important decision, one that challenges their own morals and familial bonds. Enger's characters are exceptionally strong, and Lowe deftly portrays them: Swede's chutzpah, Reuben's reverence for his family, and their father's magic are all admirably expressed. Simultaneous release with the Atlantic Monthly hardcover (Forecasts, July 16). (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review

Big doings for this celebration of a father raising three children in 1960s Minnesota: there's a 100,0000-copy first printing and an 18-city author tour. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

Minnesotan Enger pulls out the stops in this readable albeit religiously correct debut about a family with a father who may be touched by God and a son by the Devil. Jeremiah Land's wife left him years ago, and now, in a midwestern town called Roofing, in 1962 or so, he's janitor at the local school and sole parent of chronically asthmatic Reuben, 11 and the tale's teller; his precocious sister Swede, only 9 and already an accomplished poet of western outlaw-romances; and Davy, who at 17 becomes a killer-though possibly a just one. Two town boys from the wrong side of the tracks have a grudge against custodian Jeremiah (he caught them in the girls' locker room) and, after vowing revenge (and briefly kidnapping Swede), they appear one night in the upstairs of the Land house, whereupon Davy (did he lure them there?) bravely and determinedly shoots them dead. There's a trial, a conviction-and then a jailbreak as Davy escapes, not to be seen for some months. Miraculous? Well, Reuben has seen his father walk on air ("Make of it what you will," he advises the reader), and now there's a miraculous meal (a pot of soup is bottomless), the miracle of the family's being left an Airstream trailer-even the miracle of Jeremiah being fired, leaving the family free to take to the road after Davy. The direction they go (toward the Badlands), how they avoid the police, what people they meet (including a future wife for Jeremiah), how they find handsome Davy-all depend on what may or may not constitute miracle, subtle or wondrous, including the suspenseful events leading to a last gunfight and the biggest miracle of all (preceded by a glimpse of heaven), all followed by certain rearrangements among the lives of mortals. Handsomely written, rich with the feel and flavor of the plains-and suited mainly for those whose yearnings are in the down-home, just-folks style of the godly. First printing of 100,000; $150,000 ad/promo; Book-of-the-Month Club selection; author tour

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.