Edition cover

  • ISBN10: 0802139256
  • ISBN13: 9780802139252
  • Paperback
  • 320 pages
  • Atlantic Monthly Press

Peace Like a River
by Leif Enger

Reviewed by jessmonster

Rating: 5 out of 5

  • Posted 14 years ago
  • Viewed 3384 times, 1 comment
  • Average user rating: (5/5)


I find it hard to put Peace Like a River into the words of a review, but I'm still compelled to try. As far as plot goes, I made the mistake of reading the jacket flap and knowing too much of the story in advance. While the story fits together in perfect pieces, the real strengths are the characters and the tone. Reuben Land is telling us the story of when he was a boy of eleven, a boy with bad lungs and a close family and an adventure in front of him. The first chapter tells how he came into the world, how he wasn't breathing and how his father, Jeremiah, commanded him, "in the name of the living God," to breathe.

"Real miracles," Rube tells us, "bother people, like strange sudden pains unknown in medical literature. It's true: They rebut every rule all we good citizens take comfort in. Lazarus obeying orders and climbing up out of the grave - now there's a miracle, and you can bet it upset a lot of folks who were standing around at the time. When a person dies, the earth is generally unwilling to cough him back up. A miracle contradicts the will of earth...I believe I was preserved, through those twelve airless minutes, in order to be a witness, and as a witness, let me say that a miracle is no cute thing but more like the swing of a sword."

After that first chapter pulled me in, I found the book curiously hard to pick up, until I got near the end and finished it in a swoop of held breath. There are journeys, and miracles, and the epic Western poems of Rube's sister, Swede. The ending, pitch perfect with more joyfulness than I expected, is a testament to the fact that a book can be about faith without being preachy. This is one to save up and reread.

Creative Commons License, some rights reserved


cedarwaxwing says:

Excellent review! Thanks.

(I actually got here via your weblog - which I got to via a google alert on "revish").

#1 Posted 14 years ago

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