Monday, August 18, 2008

Book Report: Peace Like a River

I've just finished Peace Like a River by Leif Enger (of Osakis, MN and MPR fame). It was an incredible book, one that I couldn't put down and didn't want to finish. I chuckled, gasped out loud and cried more than once. I could write a profound review, but I'll include some comments by David Abrams:

As long as we're tossing around Great Writer Names, let's add Harper Lee to that list as well. Peace Like a River bears more than just a passing resemblance to To Kill a Mockingbird. In both novels, parents are a deep and abiding mystery and childhood, which once seemed to stretch forever, is marked by self-awareness and a sense of closure. Few writers are able to discuss adolescence in such clear-eyed, yet rosy-with-nostalgia terms that will cause grown-up adults to nod so vigorously with recognition that their heads threaten to fall off their necks. Lee and now Enger have proved themselves worthy of the task. "I remember it as October days are always remembered," writes Engers, "cloudless, maple-flavored, the air gold and so clean it quivers."

The real strength of Enger's book lies in the voice of our young asthmatic guide. Reuben Land is one of the most engaging narrators -- young or old -- to take control of a book's pages in a long time. He's funny, endearing and a fierce champion for his family, no matter how wrong their actions are. It's hard not to be swept away by Enger's prose.

The novel rises steadily to an unexpected and shattering climax which is sure to leave readers gasping for air in the last 15 pages. Unlike Reuben's condition, it does not wheeze. It sings. Oh my, how this book sings.

The book was about faith and life without being patronizing or shallow. The style was engaging and intimate. I kept thinking that I wish I could write like that. Ahhh....



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