Oh. My. Goodness! This book was amazing! I absolutely loved it. It might be one of my new favorite books. I loved the story that Leif Enger tells in his 2001 National Bestselling novel, “Peace Like a River.”
“Peace Like a River” is the story of a family living in Roofing, Minnesota of a single dad with three children: Davey, a high school teenager, Reuben, the 11-year-old asthmatic narrator, and Swede, a precocious, budding writer and youngest of the family. Their father, Jeremiah Land, is a school janitor, and a devout Christian.
The way Mr. Enger describes the faith of Mr. Land is unlike any other author I have seen try. There is a mix of the steadfast in his daily reading of his Bible and his late night praying, observed and reported by the book’s narrator, Reuben, but also a dramatic moment at the novel’s outset where Reuben is born stillborn, his lungs not working, and his father bursting into the delivery room, knocking out the doctor, and speaking to his lungs to breathe in faith, and Reuben’s life beginning.
Not only did the book, draw on the miraculous lifestyle that should be a part of any true Christian’s life/experience, but the Land family does not have an easy or comfortable life. As a disrespected janitor, Jeremiah is poor and frequently mistreated. He doesn’t really receive any credit when he stops some boys picking on a young girl from carrying out their evil plans against her. Jeremiah teaches his children to be independent and to figure out problems on their own, and they face this when he catches pneumonia and the youngest children have to cook and clean for themselves until he recovers.
While this book doesn’t have the feel of a western, there are elements of hunting in the woods, riding horses, a fugitive on the run aspects that all resemble that type of book. Unlike most contemporary novels, Mr. Enger doesn’t rely on shocking titillation or unsavory language to set his mood. Instead he prefers setting the scene with precise descriptions of the landscape both external and internal of the places and hearts of his characters, which produces a more engaging and illustrative read.
As I said at the outset of this review, I thought this book was excellent. I loved it. I listened to the audiobook, read by Chad Lowe, and I have ordered a paperback to have in my personal library to read again and again, probably with my own family. I loved it so much!