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Peace Like a River by Leif Enger

Peace Like a River (original 2001; edition 2002)

by Leif Enger

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4,0251131,270 (4.04)177
Title:Peace Like a River
Authors:Leif Enger
Info:Atlantic Monthly Press (2002), Paperback, 320 pages
Collections:Read but unowned, Wishlist
Tags:( FICTION, T.20 th century, T.1960s, P.US states - North Dakota, P.US states - Minnesota, | loved it, | FAVORITE!, from:library-bell, Read 2009, reviewed, {cover-member, 4-A list, Read, challenge: 50states-favorite read, challenge: 50states-best setting

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Peace Like a River by Leif Enger (Author) (2001)

  1. 80
    To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (wisewoman)
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Showing 1-5 of 113 (next | show all)
This book will take you by surprise. ( )
  sydsavvy | Apr 8, 2016 |
This book completely disappointed me. It is labeled as Fiction. I call it Fantasy. The reason you might not call it Fantasy is because it is has very religious undertones and lets face it, we live in a very religious (Christian) society. I feel that this book bordered on propaganda and nothing more. As you will probably tell, I am not into this sort of genre at all.

This book basically tells me one and only one story. God is bored. It is the story of a broken family. The Land family. Jeremiah (the father)(Yes we had to go with the biblical name because Sven just wouldn't fit or it was too late by the time we thought of the name Sven. Book was already in print.) Davy (eldest son) Swede (Daughter) and Rueben (youngest son). The story starts off nice enough, but right from the start, asks me to swallow the unbelievable as probable truth. When I read Tolkien or Eddings I have my mind set that all the magic that is used in those stories are fictitious and that is why the books are labled "Fantasy". Here, the impression is that with GOD "It could happen" so we get away with "Fiction". But I digress....

The Land family starts off with advesaries. It seems that two of the boys from high school are after Jeremiah and his family because Jeremiah saved a young lady from their pleasure in the school locker rooms. So what do these two boys do? They break into the Land residence with the intention of causing bodily harm to any of the Land family members with a baseball bat.

In my opinion, the true hero of this story is Davy Land. He gets up and decides that he has had enough and gets his father's hunting rifle and ends the matter, his way! Good for you Davy! Now he gets arrested and public opinion sides with the two boys that were murdered. I totally disagree with the author on the chain of events here. It seems that he is asking the reader to behave like the townspeople.

Lets forget that these two kids have a rap sheet with the law a mile wide.
Lets forget that these two losers committed breaking an entering.
Lets forget that these two kidnapped Swede with the intent of doing her harm. (much earlier in the story).
Lets forget that Davy Land never had an encounter with the law in his life.

He gets busted really bad as if he were a hardned criminal.

What ever happened to protection of property?
What ever happened to Self Defense?

Nope. The Author asks me the reader to be ignorant and not think of these things in order for the story to flow. Then...here it comes...another fantasy moment. Davy breaks out of jail. He was gone in a "puff of smoke" according to another inmate. The implication here is that it was God's Will that made Davy's escape possible. Earlier in the story Rueben gives an account of how he had to go to the bathroom in the woods but held it beyond all reason to watch his father walk on air "by the power of God" Again, if this were a fantasy novel, we would expect this as magic or witchcraft. But no, we are in a fiction novel, with the power of God - it could happen! Yeah right!

Problem that I have with this is that there are many impressionable people reading this stuff. And the author tries to make an impact while proposing that because of faith, this could happen. Well, to me, this goes against all the almighty took the trouble to create. It just does not make sense that God would violate his own laws in order to directly intervene and help others. Doesn't he have better things to do? And what did he do before Homo Sapiens came on the scene? It must have been really boring with the Amoebas.

The writing is kind of childish as well. Granted, the author was writing from the perspective of Rueben, the youngest child, but still....the descriptions were bland and you just wanted to skip paragraphs because you did not want to get caught up in all this meaningless descriptions of things.

I guess one of the reasons I gave this book a low rating is because it was hyped up to me as such a great story. Now that I read it, I wanted to wretch like I had gotten the flu or something.

So, in conclusion, if you are looking to renew your faith in God or if you just like a good "Go God Go" Rah Rah Rah God...type of book, you will find this highly entertaining. God can do no wrong and as long as you associate with him, his way you will inherit the Kingdom of Heaven, you will be able to even perform some of the miracles described in this book. One rule does apply here. You MUST believe everything you read when it comes to God's miracles. If you don't, if you question (like I do), you will simply ruin the mood and the book will not be anywhere near as enjoyable....So, Don't listen to Eve, don't take a bite of the fruit!

For those of us who have eaten of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and are free thinkers, you will struggle with this book. You will have difficulting accepting that there are some people in the world that have problems with original thinking and give God all the credit for building the airplane that allows us to fly and give no credit to the God within man that gave man the inspiration to create. In the end, it was Man who exercised his creativity and his free will to build the Airplane in order to fly. The seed came from God, the rest was up to man! (I am just waiting for all of the highly religious to come after me on this one).
( )
  DVerdecia | Jan 29, 2016 |
5 stars and a ❤

Think Scout Finch and Montana 1948, in this novel about family loyalty vs the law.

Reuben (11 years old) narrates a family story revolving around brother Davy's murdering two intruders bent on hurting the family. Their father is a deeply religious man who, per Reuben, can perform miracles.

The writing is glorious. There are many biblical references (some subtle). Our book club found much to discuss in this novel. His writing is so evocative of place (the Badlands of South Dakota). A very good book (though I think it could have ended at the penultimate chapter).

I will definitely read more of his works.

P.S. I had the opportunity to sit with Mr Enger for the Milwaukee Public Library's Spring Literary Luncheon in May 2009. He is an incredibly nice man.

Re-read this in August 2010. Still in love with Enger's writing. I flagged so many passages my book sprouted a Mohawk of neon yellow, green, and pink sticky notes. And I appreciate the closure provided by the last chapter. ( )
  BookConcierge | Jan 24, 2016 |

Our narrator is 11 yr old Reuben Land.
Our time frame is the 1960's.
"This is the story of Reuben's unusual family and their journey across the frozen Badlands of the Dakotas in search of his fugitive older brother.
Charged with the murder of two locals who terrorized their family, Davy has fled."

My main difficulty was identifying with the 1960's they present.
It's unlike any thoughts I may have of the 1960's in the USA.

Biblical illusions abound.
To enumerate fully would be considered "a spoiler"

This was a group read for my ABC reading group ( )
  pennsylady | Jan 23, 2016 |
I thought the beginning was slow and boring. It did get better further in but I bated that the author kept "speaking" to the reader saying thing like "what would you have done? " or "make of it what you will." ( )
  Jen.ODriscoll.Lemon | Jan 23, 2016 |
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To Robin
The country ahead is as wild a spread
As ever we're likely to see

The horses are dancing to start the advance--
Won't you ride on with me?
First words
From my first breath in this world, all I wanted was a good set of lungs and the air to fill them with - given circumstances, you might presume, for an American baby of the twentieth century.
So thoughtlessly we sling on our destinies.
Thinking of supper, I asked, “You want us to do anything, Dad?”
“Persevere,” he said.
I’m sorry if you thought better of me, but the fact is I spent whole hours imagining alarming humiliations for those kids - big dumb kids, always with effortless all-star lungs. … It’s true. No grudge ever had a better nurse.
I couldn’t put words to it, but Swede, as usual, could.
This still happens with Swede and me. I’ll lack a word, and she’ll dump out a bushel of them.
“My sympathies,” Dad said. “Appreciated but gratuitous,” the woman replied – and Swede would have loved her forever for that phrase alone –
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0802139256, Paperback)

To the list of great American child narrators that includes Huck Finn and Scout Finch, let us now add Reuben "Rube" Land, the asthmatic 11-year-old boy at the center of Leif Enger's remarkable first novel, Peace Like a River. Rube recalls the events of his childhood, in small-town Minnesota circa 1962, in a voice that perfectly captures the poetic, verbal stoicism of the northern Great Plains. "Here's what I saw," Rube warns his readers. "Here's how it went. Make of it what you will." And Rube sees plenty.

In the winter of his 11th year, two schoolyard bullies break into the Lands' house, and Rube's big brother Davy guns them down with a Winchester. Shortly after his arrest, Davy breaks out of jail and goes on the lam. Swede is Rube's younger sister, a precocious writer who crafts rhymed epics of romantic Western outlawry. Shortly after Davy's escape, Rube, Swede, and their father, a widowed school custodian, hit the road too, swerving this way and that across Minnesota and North Dakota, determined to find their lost outlaw Davy. In the end it's not Rube who haunts the reader's imagination, it's his father, torn between love for his outlaw son and the duty to do the right, honest thing. Enger finds something quietly heroic in the bred-in-the-bone Minnesota decency of America's heartland. Peace Like a River opens up a new chapter in Midwestern literature. --Claire Dederer

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:46 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Eleven-year-old asthmatic Reuben Land chronicles the Land family's odyssey in search of Reuben's older brother, Davy, who has escaped from jail before he can stand trial for the killing of two marauders who came to their Minnesota farm to harm the family. A first novel. Reprint.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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